Reflections on Mary, the mother of Jesus
During an eight-week period this fall, a group of Holy Spirit parishioners and friends accompanied Mary, Our Blessed Mother, on her journey of faith. The journey began with The Annunciation, in which Mary, a young teen-age girl betrothed to Joseph, accepted the seemingly impossible mission that God gave to her: She would be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. Mary demonstrates to us her willingness to place God’s will above her own. The next step in Mary’s journey was a three-month visit to assist Elizabeth, an older relative who, like Mary, was also experiencing a miraculous pregnancy. The end of Mary’s pregnancy and the birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem mark another milestone in Mary’s faith journey. To comply with the Roman census, Mary is forced to leave her home and travel as Jesus’ birth nears. Jesus is born in humility and poverty, not in a warm environment that Mary would probably have preferred for her son. Mary continues to trust in God and ponders these events in her heart.
When Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple, the elderly Simeon prophesies about the child’s greatness and the resistance he will face, but Simeon also prophesies that a sword will pierce Mary’s own heart. Mary’s heart was surely wounded several years later when Jesus, at age 12, was separated from Mary and Joseph for three days. When Jesus was found in the Temple, Mary and Joseph did not understand Jesus’ explanation that he was in his “Father’s house,” but Mary remains faithful and again ponders the meaning of this event.
The next step in Mary’s faith journey is the Wedding at Cana. Mary, noticing that the hosts are running out of wine, turns to Jesus, confident that he will resolve the problem and provide the wine for the feast. When Mary tells the servants to do what Jesus tells them to do, the servants are inspired and follow Jesus’ instructions. The Wedding at Cana marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and also marks the beginning of Mary’s role as our intercessor and advocate.
Mary’s faith journey led her to the foot of the Cross. Even though most of the other disciples had fled, Mary bravely and steadfastly remained near her dying son. When Jesus entrusted his disciple John to Mary, he entrusted all of us to Mary’s maternal love. Mary’s final step was her assumption into heaven.
These significant events in Mary’s life reveal that she was a woman whose faith in God was greater than her desire for her own comfort and safety. She was faithful even when she did not understand the work that God was trying to accomplish through her and when it was made plain to her that she would suffer. She confidently turned to Jesus for help, encouraged others to follow Jesus, and stayed near the Cross, even as her own heart broke. Mary’s actions can guide us as we travel our individual faith journeys.
The study was facilitated by Christopher Menzhuber, Holy Spirit director of faith formation, and prepared by Edward Sri.