Thursday, July 07, 2005

Pondering and Marveling

Mary, the mother of Jesus (thus the Mother of God), is presented in the Gospel of Luke as one who ponders an
d treasures things in her heart. This is the basis of all contemplative life: reflection upon the mysteries of God and cherishing them as gifts that lead us to divine communion and salvation. Another Mary, the sister of Martha, sat at the feet of the Lord and listened to his word. Jesus commended her for choosing "the better part."

We see in the second chapter of Luke that the Virgin Mary (and Joseph as well) run a whole gamut of reactions to the great works of God that were being manifest to them, one after another. Not having our benefit of 2000 years of spiritual and theological reflection and teaching, their reactions happened in the immediacy of the events themselves. Their responses include: “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart”; Joseph and Mary “marveled at what was being said about (Jesus)”; “they were astonished”; “they did not understand the saying (Jesus) spoke to them”; “his mother kept all these things in her heart.”

The presence and activity of God in our lives and in the world is marvelous and astonishing, and is something that we are called to ponder and treasure in our hearts. But it may very well be something we do not quite understand. If even Mary and Joseph did not understand the meaning of what Jesus said to them (in at least one instance, anyway), then we should not be surprised that we do not understand all the words He speaks in the Gospels. But not to understand initially is no reason to “go away sad.” Rather, it is an invitation to ponder, to reflect upon, in your mind and heart.

Jesus spoke often in parables, which many of his hearers did not understand. I think He may have been trying to sift out the sincere seekers from the merely curious. Some went away scratching their heads. Others said, “Lord, explain to us the parables.” It was with these that He shared the mysteries of the
Kingdom of Heaven.

So persevere in the word of God, even if you don’t understand it all. Seek and you shall find; ask and you shall receive; ponder and you will gain insight. Then marvel. Then be astonished. You’ll rejoice that you didn’t go away sad.