Taking Control of Lives with the Lord and
Victims of life? Or masters of our lives? Passively being devastated by each crisis? Or actively finding the solutions to our problems? These are the questions that confront us throughout our lives. These are also the questions that Mary answered by taking control of her life.
Look at her situation in life. She was a young girl, probably a teenager of high school age, who was told that she was chosen to be the mother of the Lord. Now that all sounded wonderful, and beautiful and lofty. But then the angel Gabriel left. And her life went rapidly downhill.
First she had to convince her parents that she did nothing wrong, even though she was pregnant. Then she had deal with her intended husband, Joseph. He was the one who was particularly devastated. He had made plans to send her away. It took divine intervention to stop him. Mary had to put up with the wagging tongues of her neighbors who did the math and knew she was pregnant before she was living with Joseph.
Then there was that wonderful trip to Bethlehem at the end of the pregnancy when she couldn’t even find a place to deliver the baby. Our nativity scenes are pretty, but barns are stinky. Most women want their mothers with them when they go into labor. Mary’s mother, St. Anne, was not there. In fact, Mary wouldn’t see her mother again for years after she and Joseph left Galilee. Remember, they had to flee to Egypt. The strange visit of the shepherds on Christmas night was followed by the even stranger words of the old man Simeon in the Temple. Like the shepherds, he made a fuss over the baby, but then told Mary that she would suffer because of the child.
The magi came, another strange occurrence. This was followed by Joseph waking her up in the middle of the night and saying that they had to go to Egypt. She had to live in a foreign land with no friends or family around.
When eventually they did return to Palestine, Mary and Joseph tried to establish a normal Jewish life, but nothing was to be normal with this child. Even a visit to the Temple resulted in the child being lost. When Jesus’ public life began, Mary was present putting up with people who did not understanding her son, and even opposed him to death. She had to wonder why Jesus chose such strange individuals to be his disciples. Her grief at the passion and death of the Lord are beyond our comprehension. This was Mary’s life. Not exactly a lot of fun.
Crisis after crisis hit her. How did she react? Was she a victim, devastated by the latest negativity? Not at all. Scripture is quite clear that Mary took control of her life. Once pregnant, she had only one goal, to care for that child and to present to the world, her son, and our Savior.
Mary’s life is an example to us to take control of our lives. Many people give up on themselves. “This is too hard. I just can’t do it. I’m not smart enough. I’m not handsome enough. I’m not pretty enough.” But there are others who take an aggressive approach to life. “I will get this. I will get smarter. I will use my talents and develop new ones. I will take control of my life.”
Mary took control of her life. But why? She took control of her life because she needed to present the Lord to the world. And that is why you and I have to take control of our lives. We also need to present the Lord to the world.
Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. Do not become a victim of circumstances or crises. Take control. Master life. Present Jesus to the world.
We cannot just sit by when crisis hit. We need to go into action. We have a mission in life. That mission is to make Jesus a reality to the world. We do not have the right to give up on ourselves.
During Christmas time we all stop to look at nativity scenes or at paintings and statues of Mary holding the baby Jesus. She is holding the child up for him to bless the world, to bless us. Her resolve to fulfill God’s plan for her and for all people resulted in our Savior becoming one of us. Mary is the only person in scripture to be present in every aspect of Jesus’s life--from his birth to his death. She is always there, saying to us: Look here is your Savior, my son. She was never a passive victim, but an active participant in God’s plan. She took control.
Just as Mary was resolved to make God present in the world through her faith and obedience, we are called to make God present to the world. Even though the beginning of the Church year is the first Sunday of Advent, and even though we concentrate during Lent on those areas of our lives that need spiritual refining, it is still proper for us to consider New Year's resolutions regarding our faith. In view of today’s celebration of the way that Mary grasped being the mother of God, it is proper for each of us to consider: "Where is it that I give up? When it is that the negative forces of the world take control of me. Am I easily devastated? Or do I assert the strength, the power of God that I have been given at my baptism? Do I master the life that God gave me?
I can change. I will change. I will present Jesus, the Lord, to the world. I will hold up to the world my unique manifestation of God’s love. I can do it. There is no crisis, no situation in life that will prevent me from caring for the Divine Presence I have been gifted with. I have the power. I have the strength. I have the Lord.
May Mary, the Mother of God, give us the courage to hold her Son.