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Faith Pondered: Weekly Message for 05-23-2023
In this month of Mary, I wanted to offer reflections on the Annunciation and faith from a retreat I gave early this month. I hope you are blessed by these reflections.
Mary’s faith began based on her knowledge of God’s faithfulness to her people. She believed that God is faithful. All the stories she heard growing up tell of God’s faithfulness: Noah and the Ark, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob who became Israel, Joseph who became pharaoh’s right hand, Moses who brought the Israelites to the Promised Land, David, Solomon, the lives of the prophets. She also surely based this faith on her parents’ faith in God and all that they had told her. Mary’s faith at the beginning of her life was based on what she knew of God’s faithfulness to others.
The “let it be done to me” (Lk. 1:38) she spoke at the Annunciation was a consent to let God do through her as she heard he did through others. This is what struck Elizabeth so much that she commented on it, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk. 1:45).
Mary had to deal with obstacles to her faith right away: she was pregnant and engaged, but the baby was not her husband’s. She kept her claim to be mother of the Messiah quiet. The very people she could usually rely on for safety and protection were those who could also legitimately condemn her. In this situation, only God could be her protector, and he was. Elizabeth’s infant leapt in her womb and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Joseph had dreams.
If the Annunciation was just Mary’s hallucination, it would have swiftly been put to rights. Instead, all obstacles were overcome, because she kept believing that the one who called her would faithfully fulfill His promises. Her faith was confirmed, over and over, because she took the risk to believe that it would. She no longer believed only because of others’ faith, but through her own experience.
While many external factors could contradict faith, it never seemed to me that Mary had internal contradictions with her faith. She did have questions; however, they didn’t seem to contradict her faith: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”( Lk. 1:34). “Son, why have you done this to us?” (Lk. 2:48). These are questions of clarification, not doubt or disbelief.
It is important to remember this when questions come up in my own heart. When I’m asking God for something, and perhaps, it seems he doesn’t answer or the answer is not what I expected, what do I do with that? Mary pondered in her heart. Do I ponder in my heart?
Pondering in your heart is an act of patience. The answer doesn’t always become clear right away. It takes time. It requires my openness. Mary was patient and attentive. She waited for the will of God to become clear to her.
As Mary pondered her life and circumstances in her heart, her trust in God grew because she continually had her faith confirmed. What God promised her continually came about. Trust increases when faith is confirmed. Even in the moments when she didn’t understand God’s plans at first, perhaps especially in those moments, as her life went on and she continued to reflect in her heart on what happened, God’s plan was revealed to her, and her trust grew as her acts of faith were justified. It didn’t matter whether others saw or understood. What mattered is that she saw it.
I invite you to ponder God’s fidelity in your own life for your acts of faith in Him and to allow it to increase your trust.
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Patience is always a challenge. Part of my faith journey.