Long before there were cellphone cameras, sophisticated webcams and social media platforms, there was Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her singularly wonderful heart.
From the moment an angel appeared before her and pronounced her “blessed,” Mary neither boasted nor broadcast the miracles occurring to and around her. Instead, she “pondered” the angel’s greeting (Lk 1:29) and “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19) in the stable at Bethlehem and later, on the way back to Nazareth after finding Jesus in the Temple among the teachers.
Hers was a still, but by no means shallow, capture of memories. Humble, quiet observance allowed the grace inherent in each miraculous moment to settle deeply and build, flooding her heart to the point of bubbling over in her lovingly eager “Magnificat,” and igniting wisdom for not only her age, but ours as well.
Mary’s profound humility might seem foreign to us today. When something remarkable happens to us, we are more inclined to immediately announce it than keep it to ourselves. How far such an announcement can travel! With technology’s help, we can fling myriad pictures, posts, likes and tweets to the earth’s farthest corners!
But a personal story that is sensationally framed and instantly public, however special to us, can become yet another morsel among many, a passing curiosity that fades as soon as the next one appears, leaving behind no lasting, profound impact. A too-acute need to post images and words can obscure our ability to find and cherish the graces that flow from the events and people in our lives.
Negative comments or lavish praise from others who consume our news can cloud true appreciation of our blessings. An eye trained too long on a camera lens can render us bystanders, not participants, in our very own lives.
Not so with Mary. Hers was complete and willing participation in God’s plan. By pondering the miracles in her life, Mary allowed the treasures God brought her to dwell so deeply in her heart that her actions and words flowed directly from them.
With her humble pondering, those around her became participants, too, drawn completely to the divine presence that she fostered.
We are fast into a season when a festive round of activities jams our calendars and requires us to socialize. We smile for those ever-present cameras as we fumble for our own marvel of technology. Then comes the deluge of cards and e-cards, posts and tweets to send and receive.
But if we pause to ponder these and other events in our hearts, where no batteries are required, we can begin to experience the wisdom of Mary’s actions.
I recently received an email from a stranger that touched my heart deeply. A few years ago, not understanding better, I might have immediately sent out a group email to announce it. This time, I replied to the sender, but otherwise kept the exchange to myself, tucking it into my heart.
As days passed, my appreciation and gratitude to the sender and to God for this blessing absolutely warmed my heart. When I did tell a friend about it, what bubbled up from within was clear and pure — a marvelously free feeling that allowed me to gratefully and joyfully share very good news without inserting myself into the proverbial email reference line.
Mary’s example of humility leads us away from the disconnect and self-absorption encouraged by shutterbugging, social media and an all-too-competitive world. Her steadfastness inspires us to persevere in our pursuit of quiet time for reflection, even at this most hectic of times.
Mary’s heart, wonderful and wise, shows us the way to fully participate in the graces God gives and the wonders we have witnessed and those to come.
May your Advent be graced with light, and your Christmas bubble over with joy!
Pratt is a columnist for Catholic News Service. Her website is www.maureenpratt.com.