Friday, January 2, 2009

Mary ponders.....

'But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart'
Alice Havers

And they came with haste,
and found both Mary and Joseph,
and the babe lying in the manger.
And when they saw it,
they made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about this child.
And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these sayings,
pondering them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen,
even as it was spoken unto them.
And when eight days were fulfilled for circumcising him,
his name was called JESUS,
which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Luke 2:16-21 RV

The main point of todays Gospel reading really comes from the last sentence; the naming and circumcision of Jesus. Eight days after Jesus' birth, Mary (and presumably) Joseph take Him to the temple to have him formally named and as Jewish law states (according to Luke) and circumcised.

There are two points being made here. One that Mary and Joseph were Jewish, and obeyed the law. At birth, Jesus was a law abiding Jew. The other point is Mary and Joeph obeyed God in his naming. At the Annunciation, an Angel of the Lord tells Mary:
And behold,
thou shalt conceive in thy womb,
and bring forth a son,
and shalt call his name JESUS.
Luke 1:31 RV

The part of todays reading that intrigues me however, is the little glimpse of Mary:
But Mary kept all these sayings,
pondering them in her heart.
Luke 2:19 RV

Mary has been through quite a bit since the beginning of Luke's Gospel: The Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, and now, a bunch of shepherds have arrived saying the most incredible things, when they retell what they have experienced:
And an angel of the Lord stood by them,
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:
and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them,
Be not afraid;
for behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people:
for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord.
And this is the sign unto you;
Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
and lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.
Luke 2:9-14 RV

Presumably, the shepherds explain all this to Mary, maybe with differing detail. Maybe each voice talking over the other. We can imagine them kneeling, loud whispering, large arm gestures. These awestruck men would've been rather scattered.

Mary takes it all in. She is not phased, annoyed, overjoyed, or awed by what has happened. She remembers them. She ponders them "in her heart". It is not an intellectual process that will help her understand what is occuring, or what is to occur. He understanding and acceptance is based upon emotion, and faith.

We cannot expect angels and visions of light to occur when God is present. His presence is not found on an intellectual level. As Mary pondered the sayings in her heart, we too are to understand the Gospel not with our thought alone, our hearts are how we will find God presence.

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