Fr. Ray Diesbourg, MSC USA Provincial, offered a reflection at the Marmion Mom’s Faith & Fellowship Advent Retreat in November. Here is the second part of a three-part online retreat. Mary can teach us how to open our hearts to the Lord and accept His Will. Please use this reflection to deepen your Advent practices. Stay tuned for part three!
Next we find Mary as a homeless wanderer. Caesar Augustus had decided to enroll the whole world. So Joseph takes Mary with him “to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David to be enrolled.” St. Luke (2:1-7) tells us that “the time came for her to have her child.” But there’s no place for them to stay. We surmise that they tried different places without luck. In effect they are homeless and wandering around Bethlehem until they find some kind of shelter where Mary gives birth to the child. We can imagine the anguish they both must have felt, knowing that Mary is about to give birth but that there’s no safe or secure place in which to lodge. Then after the birth we can add to all this the concern that Mary must have felt over the presence of some stranger visitors like smelly shepherds and foreign magi. Think of what the homeless people in all our cities go through as they search for food and lodging. It’s what the Holy Family went through, even if just for a short time. Again, this image could be a source of strength for homeless people, knowing they are not alone in this experience. It could also be a reminder to the rest of us to take action about homelessness.
Mary was also a refugee (Mt. 2:13-15; 19-23). After the visit of the magi, we hear that Joseph is told in a dream to take this family and flee from Herod who is intent on destroying the child. And so they leave their homeland and go to Egypt. That is truly the experience of refugees who must escape with few belongings, who have to keep looking over their shoulders to see if danger is lurking, who must find whatever food or lodging may be available, who must depend on the good will of strangers for their safety. Mary knows the experience of being a refugee and can therefore be a source of strength for the present-day refugees of our world.
Then Mary experienced the anguish of a mother of a missing child (Luke 2:41-52). St. Luke tells us that when returning home from Jerusalem, the boy Jesus stayed behind but that his parents did not know it. They thought that he was traveling with relatives and friends, but after searching for him for a day, they did not find him. So they spend another day returning to Jerusalem to keep looking. Imagine the worry and the “what if’s” that Mary and Joseph must have experienced. Are they blaming themselves or each other for not keeping a closer eye on him? What if he has come to harm in this dangerous city? Who was supposed to be watching him? When finally they find him in the temple after three days, Mary expresses the relief as well as the concern she and Joseph have been through, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Parents who have gone through the experience of a missing child can indeed ask for Mary’s help; she has been in that position.
The next image of Mary is that of the mother of a resistant son (John 2:1-12). Here we find Mary with Jesus and his disciples at a wedding in Cana. Mary is attentive to all that is going on and she notices that they have run out of wine. To save the newly- weds embarrassment on their wedding day, she decides to have Jesus do something about the situation. She says to him, “They have no wine.” But Jesus resists, wondering why he should be concerned. He adds that his hour has not yet come. In John’s Gospel, the hour is that of his passion, death, resurrection and ascension, as noted in John 13, “Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.” Mary does not respond to him directly, but moves the situation forward by telling the waiters, “Do whatever he tells you.” (These are the only nine words that Mary speaks in the Gospel of John.) This ends up being the first of the signs that reveal his glory; and it happens because Mary pushes him into it. She always brings us to him and invites us to do whatever he tells us.