Let’s talk about Mary, the mother of Jesus. We all know that Christmas is about Mary giving birth to Christ, the savior who came into the world to not only teach us how to live according to God’s word but also to save us from our sin.
Mary is very dear to my heart. For certain reasons, of course. Most of you probably don’t know that my real name is Mary Jo. I was named after my grandparents (Mary and Joseph) on my father’s side. I was also named after the spouses in the Holy Family (Mary and Joseph). Mary has always been part of my life as she is part of my namesake and her mother (Anne) is my confirmed name. Also, Mary bore and raised my Savior. So, she plays a large part in my life. Now, let’s get to talking about Mary.
When I think about Mary, I think about how strong of a woman she was. First, she was very young when she was told by an angel that she would bear a son by the Holy Spirit coming down upon her. She not only believed what she was told, but told the angel that she was a “handmaiden of the Lord” and “to let it be done according to his word.” She accepted this challenge knowing that her betrothed, Joseph, could easily stone her to death because she would be found pregnant prior to marriage and accused of the child being that of another man’s. In those days, women were stoned to death for things like this. She could also have faced public humility. She knew all of this, but took on God’s plan for her life. God provided for her as, obviously we all know, Joseph took her in even though she was already pregnant.
Mary has this child and it turns out to be Jesus. She raised this child and let Him venture away from her as He completed His ministry. That is my second point of Mary’s great strength. She was a women who let her son leave her with no way to communicate with Him because she knew He had to carry out His ministry. I know I would have a hard time with that.
Next, Mary not only has this son to love and adore, but she has to accept the fact that her son is also her Savior. She bore Him, but He came to save her and all of creation. That takes strength. Think about how hard that would be. You want to tell your son not to leave you and not to walk among people you don’t know because they could harm him, but you have to because he insists and it is God’s plan. If that were me, I would be constantly worrying about him.
The last part of Mary’s life is where she endures the greatest of her strength. She had to watch her son be sentenced to death and stood at the cross as He took His final breaths. She watched her son be publicly humiliated and endure a painful death. She never left His side. How many mothers could do this? Sit and watch all of this happen to your son knowing that you can’t stop it? I know that I probably wouldn’t be able to do it. Then, not only does her son die, but He gives her to one of His apostles who did not have a mother (John). This apostle is to care for Mary, and vice versa. Therefore, Mary had to leave the site of her son’s death and follow around an apostle she didn’t know for all of her life. She had to follow around a man that her son had entrusted her to. Again..that takes great strength.
In the Catholic Church we know about the seven swords that pierced Mary’s heart (as Simeon predicts when he receives baby Jesus into the temple and tells Mary that a “sword will pierce her very soul”). Mary endured great grief and trials because she said yes to God and bore the Savior of the universe. She certainly carried her cross with strength as she made salvation possible for all humans.
I think about the grief Mary endured during her life and compare it to mine (although, my grief is really nothing compared to what she endured). I take many lessons from Mary. The woman stayed firm in her faith and love for her son and Savior. She didn’t give up. She continued to let God carry out His plan in not only her own life, but her son’s as well.
I pray that as I continue my journey of grief and life, I may have a heart like Mary. That I may keep my eyes fixed on my Savior and let Him carry out His plans for me. That I don’t get sidetracked and distanced from Him. For Mary says it best, “I am a handmaiden of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to His word.”