Mary Queen of the Apostles
Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-52
As I reflect on the spiritual life, I often look back at the journey that I have walked with the Lord up to this point. I am then joyfully surprised to realize that Mary has not only been a faithful companion and mother, but that her experience has somehow also been my experience, especially if I think of the time in her life that we contemplate in the joyful mysteries of the Rosary. The Annunciation, the Visitation, the Birth of Jesus, His presentation and the the finding in the temple suddenly acquire a new meaning that gives direction and certainty to my often faltering steps.
The Annunciation reminds me of the virtue of welcoming. Mary embodied a pure welcoming of the Word of God in her heart and in her womb. The Word came with its Divine strength, but in a hidden and small way, like the mustard seed that is so tiny that it seems insignificant. I realized that God entered into my life with simplicity: discreetly, without fireworks, but with a strength that went way beyond what I could have ever imagined. The Visitation makes me think of all the times when the Lord has asked me to witness to Him and bring Him to others, even when I didn’t feel ready or when I thought that I didn’t have anything to give. Mary did not hesitate to visit her cousin as soon as she heard that she would become the Mother of the Messiah. Elizabeth recognized and received Jesus with joy, even though He was hidden in Mary’s womb.
There have been certain moments in my life when I was expecting to see grandiose things in my spiritual life, especially after receiving a gift from God. Those were moments in which I tried so hard to conquer all the virtues by taking giant steps…. and instead I had to accept that growth happens slowly, like a child who doesn’t become an adult overnight. This is the mystery of the birth of God’s Son, who did not come to us as a mighty warrior or a rich king, rather as a poor and defenseless child. Thus the measure of my unreasonable expectations (for myself and others) became a child that needs to be carried in my arms. Mary handed Him to the shepherds and to the Magi for them to hold. I wonder what these people, so different from each other, felt at that moment. However, human greatness doesn’t make the difference. What makes people great and blessed is the Child in their arms, not their own status. Behold the Savior of the world, the Messiah! It is in the loving acceptance of my littleness and limitations that I rediscover the presence of the Savior that bends down toward me to raise me to His heights.
The fourth mystery makes me think of the desire that I often have to be in control of my spiritual life, telling God what He has to do and when. How often I fall into the temptation to build my own plan for holiness, becoming attached to it! Mary, though, did not kept Jesus all for herself. Mary brought Jesus to the temple and offered Him to the Father, recognizing that He was the Father’s even before He became hers. So it is with me. I am called to trust in God, who has guided me thus far and takes care of my spiritual life. Should I be given a warning that suffering will come, as Simeon told Mary, I am confident that with her help, I will be able to accept and live any suffering as part of God’s plan of salvation for myself and those whom I love.
The last mystery brought me to reflect on the unforeseen obstacles of the spiritual journey. Who would have thought that Jesus would stay behind in Jerusalem without warning His parents? I can’t even begin to fathom Mary’s and Joseph’s anxiety. Memories rushed back to my mind of all the times in which Jesus brought me to unexpected places, always guiding me beyond the horizon of what was familiar, reminding me that He was the one in control. Following Him through the highs and lows of my spiritual life became vital, both when everything was smooth, and when I couldn’t understand a thing. I persevered in searching for Him in the midst of difficulties, and He let Himself be found, while I grew in the search process. The secret was to look at Mary who grew in her faith through her attitude of gracious listening to all that was happening in her life, so that she could constantly be refocused on the will of God. As Luke says in his Gospel, “Mary pondered all these things in her heart.”
I pray that our meditation on the mysteries of the lives of Jesus and Mary will be a light for our spiritual journies during this Christmas season, so that we can all one day meet together as we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity in Heaven.