In the gospel today, an angel appears to Mary to tell her she will become the mother of the Son of God. This is the reason Mary is very important for us Catholic people; she is the mother of Jesus, our Savior. [To see the words of the gospel, click here.] Mary’s example is very important, because Mary is a person we can copy. Jesus, Son of God and son of Mary, is both human and God, and different from us. Mary is fully human. She is an example for us, why? God saw her and said, “Here is a person I, God, can depend on fully. Here is a person who will stay no matter what is happening in her life. She is a person who will accept what I, God, will ask from her. She will not quit, not give up; she will stay.” In today’s gospel, Mary says, “Yes, I am willing to become the mother of Jesus your Son.” And the angel left, and then maybe Mary began to think, “Wait, I am pregnant with the Son of God, but I am not yet with a man.. What will it mean? Maybe people will think I am guilty of adultery; they will throw me out, stone me to death. That is possible.” Mary truly does not know what will happen in the future of her life. She says, “God, I do not know your plans fully, but I accept to become the mother of Your Son.” She said yes to God and then she had to trust that all the things happening in her life were part of God’s plan. Mary suffered a great deal many times and maybe wondered, “Did God really want this to happen. God really wants me to do what I have to do right now?” For example, Joseph accepts Mary and they marry and the baby is coming. Then soon they have to travel. Mary says, “Why must we travel?” Maybe she thinks, “It would be better to stay home and more safe not to travel.” But then she has to travel, and they arrive in this little town; Bethlehem was not a big city. They cannot find a nice place for the night. You think God’s son must be born in a nice, safe, healthy hospital. It does not happen. Mary and Joseph have to find a barn. Jesus, the Son of God, is born in a barn full of animals. Did Mary understand why? Mary did not understand; she knew that somehow this was God’s plan and she accepted it; she stayed with it; she was reliable, faithful.
Then what happened? King Herod wanted to kill her child. So what must Mary do? She has to run, escape, go off to Egypt. Egypt, a foreign country. Did she understand the language? Maybe not. Did she know the customs there? I doubt it. But she went because she knew her responsibility now was to protect this child, protect the Son of God. So she went to Egypt. Did she understand why she was suffering so much? No. But she knew this was her duty, her responsibility at this time in her life, and she accepted her responsibility.
When it was safe, she went back home to the little town of Nazareth. A small place, perhaps 150 people lived there. For many years, Mary did the same thing every day, washing clothes, cleaning the house, going shopping, cooking, the same thing again and again, every day. But Mary knew it was her duty to help Jesus grow to become a good man. Mary accepted it. She accepted the same thing every day, a boring life. Mary knew it was her duty and she accepted it.
Then Jesus grew up and left to go preaching. Mary knew that his enemies were becoming more angry against Jesus. Then at the end of Jesus’s life, soldiers seized him, and Jesus suffered so much. Mary knew. Jesus had to do what God his Father wanted. Mary saw the suffering, saw Jesus carrying the cross. Mary understood? No. But Mary saw that somehow Jesus’s suffering was part of God’s plan, part of God’s will, and she accepted it. She did not run off, did not withdraw. She stayed, and then she saw Jesus on the cross, saw Him crucified. You who are mothers and fathers, do you want to see your children suffer? No. When your children suffer, you suffer more than your children. The same with Mary. She saw Jesus nailed to the cross, saw him die. You think about your children dying; how do you feel? Mary understood the reason why? No, I do not think so. But she knew that Jesus obeyed God His Father. Mary accepted it patiently, faithfully. Then they took Jesus’s body down from the cross, and put His body into Mary’s arms. She held her beautiful son’s body, dead. Her heart was broken. Did she understand why? No, she did not know why. But she accepted it as part of God’s plan. Mary stayed with her promise to do what God the Father wanted.
It is the same for us; you and I have the same situation. We know something is the right thing to do. Sometimes we wonder why we must do this. Maybe we do not understand, but we know God wants it. Each of us has to be faithful, continue to obey God’s word. Understand fully? No, it can be very hard, but we must stay with it because it is part of God the Father’s plan for us.
Mary is the example of a person who stays, dependable, faithful, doing everything God wants. She understands completely? Maybe not. But she accepts the suffering and the pain because she knows it is part of God’s plan for her. Often the same happens to us. We suffer a problem and we do not understand why; but we know God wants us to stay with the problem. We are dependable, faithful like Mary.
Let me go off the point a little bit. Next Friday we will celebrate Christmas. Sometimes maybe you wonder why the Son of God came from heaven to join us here on earth. It would be better to have stayed in heaven. He could tell all the people, God is saving you. If Jesus stayed in heaven, he was comfortable; he did not have to suffer. But Jesus did come here, why? Let me make a comparison with a story. It is a story about a young man; his father was the king; the young man was a prince, but a little crazy. One day the prince decided he was a bird. As a bird he took off his clothes, climbed up a tree and sat in the tree with the birds and ate bird food. He stayed in the tree, enjoyed life with all the other birds in the tree. The king, his father, was very upset. He wanted the son to come down. The king called doctors, psychiatrists, wise men to come and get his son to come down. They all failed. Then one day a wise old rabbi came and asked the king, “Do you want me to try something with your son?” The king said, “Yes, please help us.” Then the rabbi climbed up into the tree, sat down with the son and said, “You have a very nice tree here. Do you mind if I join you sitting here?” The boy said, “It is okay. You are a bird like me.” Time went on and the two of them talked and the rabbi became his friend. The boy began to trust the old man in the tree with him. The old man began to help the boy see it was better for him to come down, put on regular clothes, eat regular food. As time went on, the son came down and joined his family again.
What is the point? The rabbi went up in the tree, joined the boy and they became friends. So also Jesus came from heaven to join us here on earth and became our friend. Then Jesus could influence us, help us become better, more what Jesus wants. If Jesus stayed in heaven, He could