MARY, MOTHER OF OUR LORD
This is the traditional day of the church year that we celebrate the life of Mary, mother of our Lord. This year August 15th is a Sunday. I am excited we have this opportunity to celebrate her trust in the Lord, her sticking with Jesus at those moments she did not understand his actions, right down to the end of his life when she stood at the feet of Cross and Jesus told John; “Take my mother home.” She was even there in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit arrived on Pentecost. Tradition tells us she lived the rest of her life in John’s home in Ephesus, where she died a natural death.
Now let’s look at some crucial moments of her life when she faced challenges and grew from being the mother of Jesus to one of his disciples.
Luke tells us the angel Gabriel came to Mary as a young girl betrothed to Joseph the Carpenter. He gave her the great, yet scary news that God had chosen her to bear his son Jesus, who would grow up to be the Messiah. Not only that she would be filled with the Holy Spirit and become pregnant.
As I reflect on that moment these things stand out for me. We do not choose God, God choses us. We have the choice of accepting God’s invitation or not. The rich young ruler wanted to join Jesus but walked sadly away when Jesus told him he would have to give up his wealth. I am certain many have been given the invitation to serve God and many have turned it down. Mary while confused how it was going to happen still gladly accepted the invitation.
But it was not easy for Mary, pregnant, but not married. At first when Joseph heard her story, he sadly decided to quietly divorce her perhaps hoping she would avoid being stoned.
It took an angel of God in a dream to convince Joseph that indeed she was carrying God’s child, and he needed to marry her and give Jesus a male parent.
Our gospel for this morning has Jesus visiting our cousin Elizabeth who is three months pregnant with John, who leapt in her womb when Mary walked in. Elizabeth knew immediately who Mary was carrying in her womb. It was the first human affirmation that she indeed was the servant of the Lord.
In her song we get a vision of what her son would be. He would be one with the poor and lift them up. He would make the rich shake in their boots, and he would puncture the pomposity of the arrogant. He would bless his people Israel forever.
Mary often did not know what to think. When the shepherds came to her in Bethlehem after Jesus’ birth and shared the wonders they had experienced, she kept all this information and pondered them in her heart.
When she went to the temple with Joseph to dedicate the child, she heard a prophesy that must have troubled her. Jesus would upset the power structure, but grief would also pierce her heart. I wonder if she remembered those words at Jesus’ crucifixion.
Next there was a big trip to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve. He disappeared from the group and was found in the temple talking to the elders, who marveled at his wisdom. When Mary told Jesus how worried they were, he responded just like a preteen. “Didn’t you know I would be about my Father’s business?” A typical response from a teenager who was growing into what it meant to be Messiah.
Next, we have Jesus’ family trying to take him home as he is beginning to get opposition to his mission, and message. His answer when they got word to him was very upsetting. Everyone who follows me is my family. It is obvious his family did not understand, but Mary stuck around. There are many times when we will not understand what God is doing. Stick around, God will show you what God is doing at the right time.
Next, we have Jesus, his mother, and his disciples at the wedding feast at Cana. Word came to Mary that the wine was running out. That would be a horrible thing. Invite everyone to a wedding reception and run out of wine. She turned to Jesus for help. Jesus rather coolly responds; “Woman it is not my time yet.” In John’s gospel Jesus’ time did not come until he was on the Cross. Mary ignored the response and told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them and Jesus did the miracle of turning water into wine.
Next, we see Mary at the Cross. Whether she understood the moment or not she stayed close to her son. It reminds us a second time, no matter what happens in your life stay close to Jesus, especially in tragedy. We can only guess the agony that was going through her soul as she watched her son dying. Thank God John did what Jesus told him and took his mother home, and he became her son, protector and provider.
It most have been a day of unspeakable joy when Mary discovered Jesus had risen from the dead. Her son had defeated the powers of sin and death and was now resurrected among them.
Another wonder was soon to follow. She was there the day the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost and 3,000 souls became disciples, and the Church was born.
It had been a tough journey from Gabriel’s announcement, and Pentecost, but no matter what, Mary was there even when she did not understand what was happening in the present moment. She is the model of a great disciple. May her spirit lead us ever closer to Jesus. Amen.