In So Many Words
She was a young Jewish girl who was engaged to the young village carpenter. Her parents, Anna and Joachim, were very happy with her choice. Mary loved Joseph who was an upright man, gentle, well known and well-liked in the village. He made the best furniture and farm implements. But God had other plans for them.
Mary was a woman saturated in the Scriptures and steeped in the stories of her ancestors. St. Augustine said, “Mary conceived Christ the Word in her heart before she conceived Him in her womb.” The God she knew was a God full of compassion and love. He had freed her people and brought them out of bondage.
So when the Angel Gabriel came to her and asked her to become the Mother of the Savior, she did not ask for a sign as Zechariah did. For Mary acceptance and willingness to cooperate with the plan of God was enough. She responded, “Be it done to me according to Your word.” (Luke 1:38) Mary didn’t fully understand the implications of what she agreed to, but she made herself available for the plan of God.
Isn’t that what faith is? It is a leap from what is rational to what is beyond understanding. All her life Mary had to ponder and reflect on the events of her life and the meaning of her Son’s life and His role in the salvation of the human race. Like Him she too grew in “wisdom, age and grace.” Jesus Himself said, “No one knows the Son except the Father.”
The faith of His Mother had to embrace the mystery of His divine origin. Through the events of their lives Mary came to understand her own divine vocation more deeply. She wrote no books nor did she leave us any recorded messages. How we would love to be able to read the record of the lives of the Holy Family! She never made the headlines or stood out in the crowd. Hers was an ordinary life hidden away as she lived it out in Nazareth. The Evangelists give no details of her life throughout the formative years of Jesus.
Her faith, ever unwavering, encourages us as we go on our earthly journey. To give of oneself all throughout one’s life to the truth of God’s Word and to suffer the trials and pains of life is to model oneself on Mary the perfect model and faithful disciple. An elderly woman was once overheard saying, as she stood before the Statue of Mary, “You beat them all, Mother of God. You beat them all.”
Blessed are you who believe. It seems that faith creates a space in us to receive the gifts of God. He did great things for Mary. He can do great things for us too if we believe. He can take away our meanness and our selfishness and give us a heart that’s full of compassion and love.
All we need is to have the faith that risks all. It is no easy thing so we need Mary’s help to keep going. She is our loving Mother and her concern is for our wellbeing and happiness. Who knows better than Mary the cost of faithfulness?
After many years of missionary service, Columban Sr. Abbie O’Sullivan entered eternal life in June 2022.