Saint Dominic chose Our Lady as Patroness of the Order because the Blessed Virgin Mary was Our Lord’s first disciple. From the outset Our Lady embraced God’s will totally and without reserve, she held nothing back. She listened to the message of her Son and reflected it in her life. What better model or example for the spiritual sons and daughters of Saint Dominic to follow? Like Our Lady, we are all disciples, and over time we come to realise that being a disciple doesn’t just involve sitting at the Master’s feet and listening, it involves action: it involves doing something. “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” Mary incorporated in her life all of God’s Word and repeated them like a child repeats a lesson learned in the classroom. For example, Our Lady echoes, with firm conviction, God the Father’s words precisely at Our Lord’s Baptism when later she tells the servants at the wedding in Cana: “Listen to him. Do whatever he tells you.” This is the call of all disciples.
We all know that being a disciple of the Lord isn’t easy. Just try to live out your Catholic Faith and see how much opposition comes your way. Mary experienced rejection from her own neighbours. Early on in Our Lord’s ministry, she struggled with some, even among her own family members, who thought Our Lord was insane. Her role as disciple went beyond her role as Mother, for she had a single-hearted devotion to Jesus, the Son of God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe.
Our Lady’s role was to selflessly share her Son with others. She didn’t cling to him possessively or resent the demands of others upon him. As a disciple she was inclusive of all the members of God’s Family. Remember when Our Lord asked: “Who are my mother, brothers and sisters?” The answer: “whoever does the will of God.”
As a wise disciple, Our Lady gained God’s perspective and insight. She knew herself to be one disciple among many. She belonged to the one Body, the Church, and she had a sense of this community and was included in the gathering in Jerusalem at Pentecost. This community of the Church shows us the dependence we should have on one another because we depend on the gifts of all to make a whole. This is the only way that the Order and individual communities can work, by pulling together and working from the same page towards a common goal. There is no role for the prima donna.
Our Lady is a supreme role model of one chosen by God for a particular mission; and Our Lady’s mission was to proclaim the Messiah beyond her own boundaries, limitations and experiences. She was a willing instrument, edifying the Church and the world with her gift. The gift which was Christ incarnate in her faith.
Our Lady was a trusting, willing servant of God who didn’t know where her faith of discipleship would lead her. At the foot of the Cross she trusted that God knew what he was doing. She stood beneath the Cross despite her many doubts and anxieties. St. Paul teaches us that “God has made known to us the mystery of his will.” Our Lady lived to see the fulfilment of all God’s promises to his people.
Saint Dominic recognised Our Lady as the supreme model of what it means to follow Jesus; Our Lady gives us the clearest example of what it means to be a disciple, making Christ present through our lives, and through our preaching and teaching as sons and daughters of Saint Dominic.
May Our Lady’s prayers always assist us as we draw ever closer to God’s Kingdom.