The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
December 8, 2023 – The Immaculate Conception, Mark 1:26-38
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I like to think that the early years of Mary of Nazareth were fairly ordinary. She learned the household duties of a young Jewish maiden, made friends with neighbors and went on short trips with her family to nearby villages.
Then one day something rather remarkable happened. She was by herself, perhaps quietly reciting a prayer psalm when suddenly she had a visitor, whose name she learned was Gabriel. The angel (Mark later wrote) informed her that she would give birth to a child, a boy she was to name Jesus. He would become a ruler over the people like King David. Jesus would come directly from God and be the long-awaited messiah.
As we read this gospel, we can only guess how disturbing this must have been for Mary. God had singled her out to be the most important mother ever!! She no doubt had many questions, but they were not to be answered yet. All the angel wanted was her initial agreement to be part of God’s plan. She gave Gabriel a yes because that’s what good people do when they believe God is calling them to do this or that.
And then unfolded “the rest of the story.” A life for Mary that had its joyful and glorious moments, as well as many sorrowful ones. As her life progressed, she experienced many additional moments when she had to again say “yes” to walking the path God set for her.
In the spiritual life of each of us something similar happens in a thousand different ways. God creates each of us for reasons we struggle to know day by day, year after year. Sometimes God’s ways with us are clear, but often they are not. In fact, I believe they rarely are clear. The gospel notes that Many “pondered” her situation, always trying to know what would next challenge her. Eventually she was led to the foot of the cross, the instrument of her son’s execution. She did not want to be there. Anywhere but there! But there she was. It was part of God’s intent. After all, she was his mom.
God leads all of us on unique pathways into challenging moments. Sometimes we only recognize God’s directing us after, as we say, “the dust has settled.” So much of our lives, like Mary’s, is clouded with mystery, uncertainty and challenges that we might never embrace if it were left up to us. But deep down we come to know that life is not only about us. It’s about that great mystery of God’s spirit taking flesh within Mary and then in all of us. Ponder that!
David M. Thomas, PhD