Mary’s quiet faithfulness, Joseph’s quiet devotion

| Tony Rossi | December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

AdventofChristAuthor and theologian Edward Sri knows we’re all familiar with the Christmas story. But he also thinks we can be so familiar with it that we miss a lot of its important points. That’s why he wrote a book of daily reflections called “The Advent of Christ: Scripture Reflections to Prepare for Christmas.”

For instance, consider the phrase, “Hail Mary, full of grace,” which we find in Luke’s gospel when Gabriel greets Mary. Most of us have likely prayed those words thousands of times to the point that we don’t give much thought to their meaning. But Sri points out there is something unique about them.

During an interview, he explained, “The word in Greek for ‘full of grace’ describes an action that began in the past and continues to have its effects in the present. It describes the life of God, the work of redemption, and forgiveness of sins. The angel is pointing out that Mary already has the life of grace in her, before Gabriel ever came to her.”

Alongside Mary, of course, is her devoted husband, St. Joseph, who followed God’s request that he raise Jesus as his own child. Sri rightly sees him as indispensable, and reflects on his role in the Advent season in a chapter he named “Silent Knight, Holy Knight.”

Sri explained why he sees St. Joseph in these chivalric terms: “He’s the man who protects the Holy Family, who makes many sacrifices, bringing them to Egypt and bringing them back. But he’s in the background. In all of the New Testament, he never says a single word. Yet we revere him. As a father, I turn to Joseph many times every day and ask his intercession that I may be a good husband, a good father. So I love thinking about Joseph, quietly doing the will of the Lord even when it would mean much difficulty and sacrifice on his part.”

St. Joseph’s knightly characteristics, however, don’t mean Mary was a damsel in distress. In fact, she displayed large doses of both meekness and strength. Consider that her first inclination when she hears her cousin Elizabeth is pregnant is to go be with her. Sri pointed out, “That wasn’t a little weekend trek. That was probably a four-day trip down south. She goes to serve, she wants to help Elizabeth.”

Life doesn’t get any easier from there, with Mary giving birth in a manger, hearing Simeon’s stark words about a sword piercing her soul, and contemplating the idea that her son will be hated and killed. Sri said, “All along the way, Mary remains quietly faithful. She had unique graces, but she’s still human, so this would all be very hard.”

Mary’s approach to all this hardship is the key to her surviving it. As it’s written in Luke 2:19, “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Sri concluded, “Basically, she’s turning inward and prayerfully reflecting, ‘Lord, what are You trying to teach me? How am I supposed to respond?’ That’s a great model for us because when we have chaos going on around us and things don’t work out the way we want, we often panic or get discouraged or complain. But we want to be like Mary and keep it in our heart, prayerfully turning to the Lord. . . . She trusts that God’s hand is in this. She may not fully understand what’s happening, but she surrenders to the mystery — and that’s what we need to do.”

Rossi is director of communications for The Christophers — founded by Father James Keller, M.M. — whose mission is to encourage people of all ages, and from all walks of life, to use their God-given talents to make a positive difference in the world.

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Category: This Catholic Life