Learning from Mary

I was six months pregnant for each of my daughters at Christmas. Being pregnant at Christmastime connected me in a very deep way to Mother Mary. I have always had a special devotion to Mary, but my devotion to her became much more intimate when I became a mother. In learning about Mary and going to her for advice and intercession to her Son, I have learned many things from her. She has taught me to keep my eyes fixed on God and humbly trust in God, to persevere in suffering, and to wonder.

As the Immaculate Conception, we often think of Mary perfectly doing God’s will without any question or uncertainty, but she did struggle with questions and uncertainty. When Gabriel announced to her that God had chosen her to be the mother of God’s Son, she “was troubled and wondered what sort of greeting this might be.” (Luke 1:29) She asked questions of Gabriel, “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34) Despite her questions and uncertainty, however, she courageously proclaimed her fiat, her yes, and placed her trust in God. She didn’t know exactly what it would mean or where her yes would lead her, but she trusted God with her entire being and humbly placed her life in God’s loving hands.

From the prophecy of Simeon that “a sword would pierce your own heart” (Luke 2:35), Mary knew that she would experience suffering with her Son. I am sure that as Jesus grew up, she was often concerned with his health and safety. I imagine that she suffered great concern for him as he went out for his public ministry. Simeon’s prophecy was fulfilled as she watched her Son tortured and crucified. Her heart was pierced as she stood at the foot of the Cross and watched her Son die an excruciating death. Yet, she persevered through all her suffering, keeping her eyes fixed on God and trusting in God’s will.

As Mary raised Jesus, she experienced many moments of wonder. We know that she “pondered all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) She wondered at God’s choosing her to be the mother of God’s Son. As she held her newborn Son, she wondered who he would become. Through his ministry, she wondered at his wisdom, healing powers, and depth of concern for others. When he died, she wondered what it all meant. When Jesus came to her after his Resurrection, she wondered at the mystery of God’s amazing power.

Christmas is a time filled with wonder. In the midst of the lights, decorations, and presents, I wonder at the beautiful mystery of the Incarnation, God taking on human flesh and dwelling in human history. I wonder at the depth of Christ’s love to become one with us in suffering and death. I wonder at the glory of Christ’s Resurrection and the eternal life that Christ invites us to share with him. In my wondering, I turn to Mary and ask her, my spiritual Mother, to help me keep my eyes fixed on God in the midst of the noise and negativity of this world. I invite her to remind me to always humbly trust in God alone. I draw strength and courage from her example of persevering through suffering. I ask Mary to help me maintain the wonder of Christmas throughout this next year so that I may allow the Light of Christ to shine through me to illuminate the darkness of the world around me with his amazing Love.