Monday, December 29, 2014

More Like Mary

We live in the age of "likes."  So, wouldn't the world be a better place if more people started "liking" the Virgin Mother Mary? 

What if Mary started "trending"?!  The world might start to notice why God chose her for such a singular place in human history:
  • Humility triumphs over triviality:  As flawed and fallen human beings, many of us are tempted to think that the world revolves around our little selves--or that our little selves are so insignificant that nothing we do really matters.  When the Angel Gabriel announces the plan of salvation to Mary, the "favored one" (Lk 1:28), she neither demands ("what took you so long?!") nor demurs ("you must have the wrong person...").  Rather, the one conceived without sin sees herself neither as perfect nor as useless, but as the faithful servant of God--"I am the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38).  Mary's life is not all about herself, but is always centered on the will of the heavenly Father, on the life of her Son, and on the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

  • Solitude silences fear.  The scene of the Annunciation concludes with a potentially chilling line: "Then the angel departed from her" (Lk 1:38).  The Angel has just delivered world-shattering news; the drama of God's covenantal love will now play out in human history.  The "bomb" has been dropped, and now Mary is alone.  She has no blueprint to follow, no predetermined course of action on which to rely.  Yet her time alone yields not to loneliness or isolation.  Rather, this solitude sends her forth fearlessly to visit Elizabeth.

  • Obedience alone bears fruit.  Her Son will be named Jesus--"God saves"--because disobedience has wreaked its havoc upon the earth.  Fruitless toil and self-inflicted suffering can be overcome only by a conversion of heart and mind to let God's will be done.  The harrowing journey to Bethlehem, the shocking visits of the shepherds, the mysterious adoration of the magi:  It is as unscripted and impromptu a chain of events as can be imagined, and yet only obedience can explain Mary's response.  "May it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). 

  • Contemplation transforms action"Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart" (Lk 2:19).  Doesn't it make sense that Mary had developed this habit early on in her life?  Pondering the glory of God in her powerless infant, Mary's "heart to heart" experience of divine love was the center of her life.  Thus all of her action--her daily chores, and seemingly routine activities--were transformed by her daily contemplation of Real Presence.
Wouldn't you and I be better people if we were more like Mary?  Let's embrace her humility, seek her solitude, embody her obedience, and cultivate her contemplation.  In short, let's help more people "like" Mary by letting Mary make us more like herself.

May the grace of Christmas continue to transform each of us, as it did the Holy Family--

P.S.  There's still time to read--or re-read--Pope Francis' The Joy of the Gospel: Sign up to receive one paragraph per day; simply go to and subscribe via email.  Spread the word :)