Mary is the first disciple of her Son. When Mary and the family are seeking him, Jesus tells the crowd and his many disciples that they are also his family (see Mark 3:31-35). When a woman shouts out a blessing for the womb that bore him and the breasts that nursed him, he adds that better still is the one who hears the Word of God and keeps it. There is nothing here of a slight against Mary. Indeed, he is raising her up. Mary not only received the Word but she would give it birth into the human family. She will always be the handmaid of the Lord.
Luke 2:19 claims Mary as a source and says that she “pondered all these things in her heart,” the events of salvation history revolving around Jesus and in which she had a part. Prophecy is fulfilled about the seed of the woman crushing the serpent. The Messiah redeems his people. A prophecy is also accomplished about Mary’s continuing role in the Church, even after her assumption. We invoke her maternal intercession and honor her as both the Mother of Christ and our Mother, those redeemed by her Son. Simeon told her at the temple when they came for the presentation, “Your own soul a sword shall pierce so that thoughts out of many hearts might be revealed” (Luke 2:35). Mary was obviously and necessarily present at the conception and birth of her Son, God come to live among us. Similarly, she is with the early Church and the apostles at Pentecost when the Church is born through the infusion of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:13-14). This Spirit makes it so that Christ will be present still through his living Word, the sacraments, and the mystical body or the Church. The Church becomes what Mary was before it, the Ark of the Covenant. Now the great divine mystery will not be hidden in her womb but shall come forth from the womb of the Church. We come to the baptismal font and receive our share of the Holy Spirit, being born again, made into new Christs.
While each of us should be conscious of our response to the great commission of Christ; Mary was the first to hear the summons and she goes out as a missionary to the house of Elizabeth and at the end of the Gospel narrative, having treasured the presence of our Lord in her own home, she testifies to the house of God or the Church. She models for us the posture of a disciple. She is also our special advocate and intercessor. Of course, she never eclipses the role of mediation that is unique to her Son (1 Timothy 2:5-65). If almighty God wanted to exclude the divinization of humanity by grace and disqualify any earthly participation in his mediation, then he could have saved us in another way. Instead, he is conceived and born of Mary, one of his creatures. It was part of divine providence from the very beginning that Mary would have a continuing role to play. Jesus is the saving name. Jesus is God come down from heaven. Jesus is the Savior of the world and makes infinite atonement through his Cross. All this is true. However, Mary’s participation in the saving work is also made possible by the power and intervention of God. God can do as he pleases and he desired to grant a special privilege to this Jewish maiden.