And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars ...
Today we celebrate the assumption of our Lady, body and soul, into the glory of heaven, where she is crowned as heaven's Queen. Her assumption into heaven points us foward to the resurrection of the whole people of God in Jesus Christ at the end of time, and her coronation there points us foward to our own sharing in Jesus' kingly power.
So, as Queen of heaven, Mary is sharing in the royalty of her Son, Jesus Christ. He is the universal King, and she shares in his kingship. And so we call her the Queen of heaven, the Queen of angels, and of more besides. She is our Queen, reigning over us with Christ from the full bodily reality of heaven.
Sharing in the kingship, in the royalty of Jesus Christ, is of course not unusual in the Church. In fact all the members of Christ's Church are called to share in his royalty: all of us are called to reign with him in his kingdom. The people of God is a royal people, and we shall see our royalty most clearly in heaven, where Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, and our Lady with him.
So what's special then about Mary's sharing in Christ's kingship? Is it any different from yours and mine? Now when each of us finally comes home to rest in heaven, God will crown the individual life of each one of us, the individual life of each one of us in all its particularity. Mary's particular life too is crowned, and that is the life of one who was most highly favoured to be the Mother of God.
And when the life of the Mother of God is crowned, that cannot be anything other than the most pre-eminent share in the kingship of Christ. Mary seems then to have the role of Queen Mother, the Mother of the King.
So we might imagine then that Mary is a person of great influence with Jesus, who can pray to him powerfully on our behalf. Catholics have ever believed this and acted on their belief. And if we look in the Gospels, it seems that this can't be too wrong.
When a wedding feast at Cana in Galilee (John 2) ran out of wine, Mary asked Jesus to do something about it:
The Mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.'
Although he seems to have been a bit doubtful at first -
O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come ...
- he did what she asked him and turned from water into wine the contents of six stone jars holding twenty or thirty gallons each. Such was her influence. So we can't be too wrong in supposing the heavenly prayers of the Queen Mother to have great influence.
But if Mary really shares in Christ's royal power as Queen of heaven, we might expect her to be not just a woman of influence, but a woman of real power, someone who can give commands, give orders. And when I made my profession as a Dominican, like every other Dominican, I made a promise to obey blessed Mary. Not just God and the Master of the Dominican Order and his successors, but also St Dominic and Mary too.
Now what can we make of such sensible men and women as the sons and daughters of St Dominic vowing obedience to Mary? Surely the Church and the Order would only allow us to do such a thing, if it made some sense.
And it can only make sense to promise to obey Mary, if she is someone who can legitimately give commands, and this she does in the first place as Queen of heaven. But what command though has she actually given to all her servants, whether Dominican or not?
If we think back to the story of the wine running out at Cana in Galilee, after making her appeal to Jesus, she then commands the servants:
Do whatever he tells you.
And her command can just as well apply to every Dominican and every servant of God, a royal command from the Queen of Heaven:
Do whatever my Son tells you.