“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.” (Lk 1: 26-27)
Your day was suddenly interrupted by the angel Gabriel. You did not expect this to happen when you opened your eyes in the morning, but now in the most beautiful simplicity, you receive the request from the angel. “Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you! Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” (Lk 1:28-31) He doesn’t explain much, and he doesn’t give you a plan how to tell Joseph, your parents, or your neighbors about this child and His origin. I wonder if you could see a glimpse of the sword that would pierce your Immaculate Heart. Even if you did, your trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness was greater. I listen to your response: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 1: 38) It is a “yes” to the unknown, to the plan in its entirety that is only beginning to unfold now. You give your FIAT to all of it. Not because you are confident in yourself, but because you are confident in Him. He promised, and He will do it. “And the angel departed from her.” (Lk 1: 38) The angel departs to carry your FIAT to the throne of the Father. You remain in silence, but as I approach you, I hear you whisper those same words again: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.” The monotony of your ordinary life with all its demands now continues, but nothing will ever be ordinary again. For now, you carry silently and concealed from all eyes the Son of God within you.
Mary, my mother, teach me to say “yes” to the Lord at every moment.
“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb.” (Lk 1:39-41)
In haste you now travel to see your cousin. The hard journey does not keep you from following the love that burns in your heart. Jesus is hidden in your womb; you can’t even feel Him. But as you walk up the steep steps to Elizabeth’s home, His presence can no longer be hidden. You are radiant, singing the praises of God and proclaiming His greatness. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden.” (Lk 1:46-48) Indeed, you are blessed among women. “Blessed are you who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to you from the Lord.” (Lk 1: 45) And you continue to believe and to magnify God’s greatness over the next three months as you spend yourself in serving your cousin. I wonder if you ever sat at your window after a long day, remembering the words of the angel and pondering what it would be like once the Infant in your womb was born? Although you pondered all these things in your heart, I am in awe of your trust that is like a flame of fire in the dark night – a trust that leaves no room for doubt. He will provide, He will lead, He will show the way.
Mary, my mother, teach me to abandon myself to God’s providence like you did and to serve my neighbor without holding back.
“For when peaceful stillness compassed everything, and the night in its swift course was half spent, your all-powerful Word leaped from heaven’s royal throne…” (Wisdom 18:14-15)
In the dark night, you gave birth to our Savior. O Mother, what joy filled your heart, when you first beheld His most adorable face. Nothing will ever be the same again. In this holy night, this glorious night, the Father has manifested His fidelity and His love, yes, He has fulfilled the ancient promise.
The Son of God made Himself so small, so vulnerable. You count His little fingers and toes – how can this be? You don’t question, you don’t doubt, you simply receive. Holding your infant Son, you draw me, too, into adoration. It seems too much that we can gaze upon the face of God, but your gentle smile burns up any hesitation – you want me to hold Him, to draw close. You have received Him not for yourself but to carry Him to all of us.
Mary, as I draw close, teach me to adore Him with a pure heart, even if I don’t fully understand.
“When the days were completed, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” (Lk 2: 22)
Together with Joseph, you brought Jesus to the temple. You looked like so many other couples who brought their firstborn before the Lord. Still, Simeon noticed you, he saw beyond the appearances, and with eyes of faith, he recognized his Lord and Savior in the infant. He beheld the Salvation that was promised to all of us. And he gave you great prophecies about the baby. “Behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted. And you yourself a sword shall pierce, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Lk 2: 34-35) As you ponder all these things in your soul, give me your open heart that did not shrink from what it heard but rather pondered. Give me your generosity, that gave away the greatest treasure without holding back. Give me your eyes that saw God at work in all things so that I, too, may bless Him like you in all circumstances. So that I may exclaim together with Simeon, “My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people.” (Lk 2: 30)
The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple
“Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.” (Lk 2: 41-43)
A sword pierces your heart in the moment you realize that the boy Jesus is no longer in the group of pilgrims returning from the feast. No words can describe the darkness and agony you went through as you retraced the streets of Jerusalem with St. Joseph. I want to comfort and console you, dear Mother, to be at your side during this trial. Right there, close by you, I notice that despite your fear and sorrow, you do not stop trusting. You don’t hide from the Father or make excuses why you lost His only-begotten Son. You don’t judge yourself or Joseph, but you simply lift your pain to the heavenly Father and walk with Him in the unknown. The distrust and the disobedience of Eve are reversed by your firm trust at every step along the way – you are the Beloved Daughter of the Father, and you know that nothing can change that.
Mary, teach me that same disposition of heart in times of failure and trial, that I too may trust the Father with my whole being.
Sr. Fidelis, CFR