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4th International Day of Prayer, Amsterdam 2000

Homily by
His Excellency R. S. Ndingi Mwana ‘a Nzeki

It is a great joy for me to speak and preach on Mary, Mother and Lady of All Nations. I am particularly happy because this celebration is on the Vigil of Pentecost. There is a very deep connection between Mary, Mother and Lady of All Nations, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Both scripture and the Catholic tradition teach us that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was in the company of the disciples who prayed in the upper room, waiting in hope for the coming of the Spirit.

Mary kept the vigil of Pentecost with the disciples. As we keep vigil of a new Pentecost during this Eucharistic celebration, we do so spiritually with Mary, Mother and Queen of All Nations. I am therefore grateful to God for this privilege …. To pray with you in vigil. And I am thankful to all the organizers of this vigil Holy Mass of Pentecost, for your kindness in inviting me.

One of the greatest human tragedies is DISUNITY among peoples of various countries, regions and ethnic groups. Even as I speak here now, there are at least 100 conflicts both big and small, in various parts of the world. Disunity can be based on politics, or economics and sometimes, sadly, even on religion. Holy Scriptures describes this sad fact using the image of language.

We have just read in Genesis 11,1-9. How the lack of a common understanding led to confusion more misunderstanding and dispersion. The origin of thus confusion was really human pride. This is described symbolically in scripture:
"come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top to the heavens and let us make a name for ourselves (Gen.11,4)
But the Babel of confusion and dispersion is not the end of the story. Disunity is not the last word. According to scripture and tradition, God made it possible for humans to come together again with each other, to unite. From disunity, a new process of unity began. That is what Paul means in the second reading ...
"creation, until this time, has been groaning in labour pains” (Rom. 8,22)
“for the whole creation is waiting with eagerness for the children of God to be revealed" (Rom. 8,19)

The Spirit of God is the principle that makes this unity possible. It is the same spirit that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was waiting for together with the other disciples. In Spirit, and in a very real way here today, we are keeping vigil and waiting with her, as the Church has done before us.

It is right and fitting that we should keep vigil, not alone, but with the Mother of All Nations.
We are happy and privileged to keep vigil with her because:
Mary is the Mother of God, as the Church has taught us since the beginning. That Mary is the Mother of God was repeated by the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD).
We are happy and privileged to keep vigil with the Mother of All Nations because:
Mary is the Mother of the Redeemer: As a human being Mary gave Jesus Christ his human body which was his instrument of our salvation. Jesus Christ, we believe, is the King of the Universe. Mary is Queen in that Kingdom. Therefore she deserves the title of Mother and Lady of All Nations.
Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ, who is truly God and truly human. She shared in an extraordinary and mysterious way in Christ’s work of salvation. She carried him for nine months. She bore him. She took care of him. She was sometimes there physically during his ministry as at Kana in Galilee when he began his public work (John 2,1ff). She was often there in its midst (Mk 3,31ff). And she stood there till the very end (John 19,26-27). She saw him dying and died mystically with him. She saw him risen and waited with the disciples for the coming of the Spirit:
"All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus.” (Acts 1,14)

Our world today is marked by divisions and disunity. There is a great need for us to break down the walls of division and build bridges of unity. Our world today needs care and concern. Today, the world feels very strongly the need to overcome unjust inequalities in economies, education, and the professions. We live in a world of competition and complementation. We need role models in whom genuine ambition is complemented by true humility. Mary, The Mother of All Nations, is the best role model of human realisation. The simple girl from Nazareth became Mother of God, Mother of Jesus Christ, Mother of the Church and, therefore, our mother.

In 1980 the bishops of Kenya decided to build a National Shrine of Mary, Mother of God at Subukia in the Rift Valley Province. Subukia is a beautiful town set in the green highlands of the Diocese of Nakuru where I was bishop for 25 years. The Holy Father is aware of this Shrine which the bishops of Kenya continue to build. Already, hundreds of pilgrims from various parts of the country visit this shrine to pray and meditate there. They go there convinced of Mary’s care and concern for all her children and for the world. These pilgrims come from all sections of society, the most common and the most popular prayer they say is the Rosary.

It is simple ... therefore enabling everyone to pray. Yet it is deep because it goes to the very depths of the mystery of our salvation. It is indeed a prayerful reflection on our salvation.

As we recall that the Church, meaning the disciples and Mary, waited for the coming of the Spirit, let us pray here today that the same Mary may keep vigil with us. And like the early disciples let us wait without losing hope because for us ... to pray with Mary is both a duty and a delight.

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