Father Ed's Reflections

Mary, Model of Faith

28 Apr 2017

In Christianity to be a disciple means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus who is, as the Liturgy proclaims, our Saviour and our God. Discipleship is a multi-faceted endeavour but two aspects are seriously noted in the Gospel. One is the role of the cross in the following of Christ; the other is a person’s response to the will of God as it unfolds in Christian living.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is a pre-eminent disciple and while we venerate and love her we may not always reflect on the fact that she had her share of suffering and perhaps we seldom reflect on her response to God’s will in her life. Suffering and fidelity to God’s will are manifest in Mary’s life and provide a model of discipleship for all to follow. It may be added that our devotion to Mary is at its highest point when we live the same kind of life that the Virgin lived.

Jesus taught that a true disciple is to take up the cross daily and follow him. Mary’s life, from the beginning of her call, was marked with suffering of one kind or another. As an engaged woman she was faced with the problem of telling Joseph of her unforeseen and mysterious pregnancy. The first reaction of Joseph was to divorce her informally. All can imagine the trauma of that event yet it did not end there. Later, when the Child was to be born there was “no room in the inn” and Jesus was born in the poorest of circumstances. Any mother would try to avoid such a humiliating situation yet that was Mary’s lot. Soon after at the Temple, Simeon foretold a life of sorrow for her that was quickly followed by a flight into Egypt, a family escaping the forces of evil. In due time the return was made to Israel to a somewhat back-water town of Nazareth. Silence descends in great part on this period of Mary’s life except for the occasion when Jesus was lost for three days. Parents will empathize with the suffering of Mary and Joseph at that time.

As years went by Jesus eventually left home and became a wandering preacher who was both heard and accepted by many but rejected by those in authority. This led to his suffering and death and the agony of Mary at the foot of the cross. During the suffering of Jesus. Mary remained faithful but she would have suffered profoundly, she was a faithful and valiant woman.

The will of God was ever uppermost in the Virgin’s heart. At the Annunciation there was the deeply disturbing news from Gabriel until Mary became aware that God was calling her to be the mother of the Messiah. She expressed her concerns but once she discerned what God was asking of her she said, “Thy will be done.” This was followed soon after by the words of Elizabeth extolling her because she believed the promises made her by the Lord.

In the Nativity account we find Mary listening and treasuring the story given her by the shepherds. She was embracing the will, the word of the Lord in her life. At the Temple when the Child was presented to the Lord, Simeon spoke to the parents of the Child, his destiny and his future, the parents “marvelled at what was said.” God’s word and will were a cause of exhilaration yet tinged with sorrow. The Divine will was accepted and hearts were open to all that would follow.

The mysterious words of Jesus after being found after three days were held in Mary’s heart and the Gospel relates how she pondered them in her heart. Again the will, the word of the Lord was central to her life. As the life of Christ unfolded there were three other occasions when the Virgin’s understanding of the Divine will stand out. Recall the words Mary spoke to the servants at the marriage feast of Cana. “Do whatever he tells you,” that is, listen to his word and all will be well. This reflects Mary’s constant state of responding to the will of God. Later Jesus was to praise his Mother indirectly when he said to the crowd “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it,” Mary was within earshot when Jesus said these words. Finally at Calvary as Jesus was dying he gave his Mother into the care of John and, in silence, she accept the last words of Jesus to her. To ponder the Gospel where we encounter Mary is to find her ever ready to listen, to cherish, and to do the will of God and, as such, she is the model for all disciples of the Lord.

‘Mary’s faith and fidelity
are a model for your life
She has trodden all the paths
of our human existence.
She has gone through darkness and suffering.
through the abyss of loneliness and pain…
She is the little creature…
She is the poor one
filled with divine riches.
She is wholly grace
and grace for you.”

Fr Edward Wood, SSS
Blessed Sacrament Congregation, St Francis' Church
326 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, 3000, Australia

Tel:  (03) 9663 2495  Email: ewood@blessedsacrament.com.au