MARY: FROM A WOMAN’S VIEW by SISTER CLARA SCHROEDER, CSJP
Mary, the chosen one from God to be the Mother of His son, Jesus, was a woman of Great Mystery, a woman of Deep Sorrow, and a woman of Unusual Trust. While Mary had other most unique qualities, I will zero in on these three qualities—Great Mystery, Deep Sorrow and Unusual Trust.
Now the Bible tells us in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels that Jesus was born not through the human way of birth but through the power of the Holy Spirit. Luke goes into more detail when he describes the appearance of Angel Gabriel who tells this to Mary. Here we have Mystery! And Mary did not hesitate to let Angel Gabriel know.
She tells him—“That’s impossible! Joseph and I are not married yet and I’ve always been faithful to him. We’re not living together either.” And as you know from Scripture Angel Gabriel clarified how Mary’s son would be born—through the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew tells us this also but not in as much detail as Luke tells us.
As I prayed and pondered this, I was so touched by Mary’s TRUST with her
response to Angel Gabriel—…”I am the handmaid of the Lord…..Be it done to me according to your word.” While what was going to happen was still not totally understandable to Mary, she was graced with Unusual Trust in God. She was doing God’s will as difficult as it was.
And you know what! What God did for Mary, God does for each one of us — God gives us unusual trust in Him to be able do His Will, no matter how
difficult it may be. I firmly believe that our caring God will never give us a task to perform without giving us what we need to do His Will.
Now I talked about two of Mary’s unique qualities—Mystery and Trust. Where does Sorrow fit in?
According to Church teaching, Mary had seven sorrows and I will just name them and discuss two of them that center around the birth of Jesus as this is supposed to be a Christmas talk.
They are: 1. Prophecy of Simeon 2. Flight into Egypt 3. Loss of Jesus in the Temple 4. Jesus carrying His cross 5. Standing near Jesus at the Cross 6. Jesus struck by the lance on the cross 7. Burial of Jesus
The first Prophecy of Simeon took place in the Temple when Mary and Joseph obeyed the Jewish law to register Jesus and have him circumcised shortly after His birth. Simeon, a holy and aged Priest who was praying in the Temple said to Mary; “Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.” (Lk. 2:34-35) How Mary’s heart must have been so sad at Simeon’s harsh words. I appreciated Mary all the more.
Now as I continued to pray and pondered Mary’s Deep Sorrows, I became aware of another sorrow Mary suffered, that the Church does not mention. So I’m giving my own personal opinion on this since this talk is supposed to be from a woman’ view. I’m thinking of how Mary suffered so deeply when she broke the news to Joseph that she was going to have a baby through the power of the Holy Spirit and Joseph did not believe her. Now the Bible does not tell us how long he remained away from Mary until an angel appeared to him in a dream. You know the story. The angel told Joseph not to be afraid to marry Mary as her baby would be born through the power of the Holy Spirit. And he obeyed and did God’s will.
Now the point I’m trying to make is how Mary’s loving heart must have been torn with anguish when Joseph did not believe her and left her. She truly loved him and he loved her. Mary must have also suffered ridicule from many who knew her. But none of that mattered. She didn’t need their approval. She needed Joseph’s approval and support and she did not have it!
But because Mary accepted and did God’s will and eventually so did Joseph, it worked out! What a lesson for ALL of us! Both Mary and Joseph received that amazing Grace to accept and do God’s will. It is no different with any of us. When we accept and do God’s will, no matter how difficult a situation may be, it will work out! Take quiet time these precious days before Christmas to get to know Mary. You will be strengthened in your difficulties as Mary was.
Now because of God’s calling me to Religious life I have never been a biological mother. Although I have been a spiritual mother to many throughout my life. So as I prayed and pondered the heavy words of Simeon to Mary, I was able feel her anguish. I felt deep compassion for Mary. Mary’s second sorrow was the Flight into Egypt. Again as I prayed and pondered this, I became so much more aware of the fear and hardships of all the refugees today who have fled and still are fleeing with their families and few belongings because of so much persecutions they are enduring. I can only imagine Joseph carrying this heavy burden to keep Mary, her new born infant Jesus and himself safe from Herod. And as they were fleeing to Egypt again at the command of an angel—again doing God’s will — how Mary’s heart was so torn with grief knowing that so many helpless children were being murdered in the attempt to find Jesus and murder Him also. All because of King Herod’s fear and greed that he would be replaced as King by Jesus, as was told to him by his advisors.
Again as I prayed and pondered Mary’s Deep Sorrow of fleeing with her precious Christ Child and her beloved husband, Joseph, I began to realize how little my sufferings are compared to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the thousands of refugees today who are suffering. Pray hard for all the suffering today in our world.
So as I continued to pray and ponder Mary’s Great Mystery of giving birth to the Son of God through the power of the Holy Spirit, along with her Deep Sorrow that every mother has of harm coming to her child, and the Unusual Trust she had throughout her hard and sorrowful life, I am encouraged to remain faithful to my caring, merciful and just God. I do believe that in spite of all the hardships and cruelty in our world today, good will triumph over evil. So pray for that—that good will triumph over evil.
And finally, Jesus was born not in a palace but in a stable where animals
lived. God, through the person of His Son, Jesus, showed us how much He
loves and favors the poor.
This reminds me of a time back in 1980’s when I had an opportunity to
visit the famous grotto in Lourdes, France. While there another tourist and
myself visited the various sites that St. Bernadette frequented. One of those sites was actually her home in a jail cell! As I stared at the one large room or cell where Bernadette along with her small family resided, I kept saying to myself, “How Jesus loves the poor.”
So this baby, Jesus, grew up in poverty and the love of his mother, Mary,
and his foster father, Joseph. Jesus taught us how to live in the spirit of
Poverty. Unfortunately, he was not accepted by all in His time. It is no
different today. Our world is in deep trouble. His mother, Mary, in all
of her apparitions in different parts of the world, pleaded with the people
to turn away from evil and do good. Sadly, we know that this has not
yet totally happened. Do we need to live in fear? No, only if we are
faithful and have Total Trust can we truly believe that Jesus will reign as King and Ruler of His universe.
Didn’t Jesus tell us in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 28; verse 20……”And behold, I am with you always, until the end of time.”