By: Natalie J. Plumb
Mary in her earthly life attained holiness that I can only wish to begin to comprehend. God’s works are mysteries to our human understanding. One particularly astounding work we are commemorating in Masses throughout the world tomorrow: Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, body and soul, before being crowned Queen of Heaven and of Earth.
I can’t help but wonder, considering our human condition, the simple temptations she had to overcome in her earthly life. What would I have thought of first in the trials she faced? As a sinner, and as a human, it’s interesting what I believe I’d have thought of first, before my “yes” to all that he asked of me (we’re talking Nativity, Passion, the whole nine yards), if I would have even given a yes…
1. What about my reputation? Mary was young. A virgin birth? Impossible. What if she were killed, or scandalized? Mary was never concerned about how imperfect God’s plan seemed to human ears.
2. What if I lose my fiancé? After finding out, Joseph thought about leaving Mary. He was reassured later. But did Mary ever even ask if he would stay with her? No. She simply said yes.
3. What will it cost me? Agreeing to give birth to the Savior of the world isn’t exactly an everyday contract. But Mary never asked what she would have to give up in order to do it.
4. Can you wait a few more years? Maybe until after I’m married? Mary could have worried about public perception of the baby in her womb. Would they think her disgraceful? Was her conception reprehensible? But instead she simply said yes.
5. What if I can’t do it? We often ask God this, tuning in to our feelings of unworthiness. What we don’t realize, in our limited human understanding of God’s grace, is that God never looks at us as damaged goods. He takes the broken pieces of our lives, puts them together again, and creates good, with every crack and curve.
6. Will you protect my family? Mary could have easily been killed for perceived adultery. What if Joseph were killed, as was Bathsheba’s husband, after she had had an affair? Mary never asked. She simply said yes.
7. Will you provide food, shelter and warmth for my family? Mary was poor. Remember, Jesus was born in a stable. A stable. Not a palace, with glamorous displays of adornment. Mary simply trusted that God would provide.
8. Will you protect my son? Just like in her example during the Presentation of the Christ, just as she held “these things in her heart” after the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, Mary allowed God to take her son. She surrendered Jesus to God’s plan. This could have utterly destroyed any mother. At the foot of her son’s cross, Mary could have easily screamed at God to save humanity in another way. She could have asked so many “what-ifs.” But instead, she surrendered. Mary trusted and had peace.
9. Can’t somebody else do this? I’m sure giving birth to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, wasn’t entirely a responsibility Mary thought she was ready for. But she said yes anyway.
10. Would you make it easy on me? Last but not least, she never asked God to take away her cross. She always persevered, allowing God’s will to simply happen to her.
I don’t think I would be brave enough to disregard every one of these questions, as Mary effectively did through her fiat, with consistency and constancy throughout her life.
And so we pray, in her honor, and in light of the Assumption of Mary that we celebrate tomorrow, steadily meditating on all that her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) proclaims:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
Natalie writes on Thursdays about faith, dating, relationships, and the in between. May her non-fiction stories and scenarios challenge you. May they help you laugh, cry, think and wonder.