Mary seems thrilled with the announcement that she will give birth to Israel’s long-awaited messiah. Listening to her, you would have to conclude that she couldn’t be happier. I can’t help but wonder, however, whether she would have felt so blessed if she knew what lay ahead for her baby Jesus.
Saint Ignatius, as one of his prescribed spiritual exercises for daily devotions, asked us when reading about one of the biblical personalities to imagine experiencing life from his or her point of view. Imagine being Mary.
Can she envision the incredible upset twelve-year-old Jesus will cause when she and Joseph cannot find him after traveling three days on their way home from Jerusalem? Can she imagine her frustration and confusion when, instead of apologizing, he tells her that he had to talk with the Temple rabbis in order to be about his Father’s business?
Would Mary be joyous if she knew there would be further confusion when Jesus seemingly brushes aside her and his brothers to announce as he does in Matthew 2:50 that “whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister and mother” (kjv)? I imagine it would prove most difficult for Mary to feel blessed if she could picture herself at the foot of her son’s cross while Roman soldiers press down a crown of thorns on his head, drill nails into his hands and feet, and pierce his side with a spear. Might she then regret the joy she feels when an angel announces she will be the mother of the Son of God?
Christ, anoint our imaginations so that we feel what Mary and the disciples feel as they watch your passion on Calvary. Help us to feel their feelings; but most of all, help us to experience the fellowship of your suffering in both your life and death. Amen.
Isaiah anticipates a future time of total restoration. The desert will bloom, the blind will see, the lame will walk, and the people will return to Jerusalem with joy. Since ancient times, some have understood this as a description of the age of the Messiah. Luke records the song of Mary. After Elizabeth blesses her and her unborn child, Mary praises God for God’s strength, mercy, and generosity. In the epistle, James encourages his audience to be patient as they await the second coming of the Lord. In the same way, we wait for the birth of the Messiah during Advent. An uncertain John the Baptist sends a message to Jesus to ask if he is the promised Messiah. Jesus responds by affirming that he fulfills the messianic expectations in the prophets.
Read Isaiah 35:1-10. When has scripture strengthened you through personal or societal crises?
Read Luke 1:47-55. Those with power interpret scripture differently than those who are oppressed. How can you make room for perspectives other than your own as you interpret scripture?
Read James 5:7-10. When have you had to endure frustration with patience? How have you been strengthened by these experiences?
Read Matthew 11:2-11. What does it mean to you to be greater than John the Baptist?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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