She holds Him first in the stable, keeping Him warm and safe in the darkness of the star-lit night.
Then, a scant eight days later, He experiences the first pain, the first tiny loss of the saving blood, His circumsion. United to us in helplessness, in smallness, in suffering, she holds Him tightly in her arms.
Soon, Mary will carry Him up to the Temple, where Simon will tell her to expect great suffering, both for herself and for Him.
Then, one dark night soon after, Herod's soldiers set out to kill this threat. A threat to Herod and his power, to us and our self-will. Mary carries Jesus as she and Joseph flee in the night to Egypt, but behind her she hears the terrifying cries of mothers, screaming as their sons die for His sake. The first of the martyrs testifying to His coming.
Does she hold Him close, afraid to let Him go, when He comes to her and tells her He is setting out on His own path, fulfilling His destiny, beginning His mission of teaching and healing? Does she see the cross at the end of that road? Opening her arms, letting go, is it another sword of sorrow?
At the end, she holds His dead body in her arms, carrying the pain of His crucifixion like a sword in her heart.
Then, comes a morning when all the suffering, all the sorrow, all the loss is swept aside and her heart nearly explodes with joy--He is alive!
Motherhood. The greatest joy, the greatest sorrow. Mary lived it daily; she lived it deeply. All the rejoicing, all the grief she experienced were contained within the Will of God, the Will she embraced and remained in perfectly throughout her life. When we walk in the Will of God, we will share in her joys and her sorrows; we, too, will have a place in the work of Redemption.
|Madonna and Child, Marianne Stokes|
Dear Lord, by the intercession of your Blessed Mother, give me the strength to hold my children close and the courage to let them go. May Your Spirit fill me with enough wisdom to guide their steps and enough faith to let them follow their own path. Guide them when they are far away, turn their hearts and minds to You. Through the prayers of Mary, may each of us, humbling ourselves to conform to Your Will as she did, come finally home to You.