In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus ~Luke 1:26-56; 2 (RSV)
Read entire Scripture for Lesson Four HERE
When I first read this week’s scripture, I was a bit overwhelmed; it was so long and there was just so much to think about. As I have read and re-read, however, I was drawn to the word “ponder”… Mary pondered — first, after hearing Gabriel’s greeting; again, then, when the shepherds are drawn to the stable by the angels; and again, after finding Jesus in the temple. Although it did not say it, I am sure she also pondered over Simeon’s message that her heart would be pierced by a sword. It is not a stretch to imagine that she probably pondered a lot throughout her lifetime.
Out of curiosity, I decided to Google the word “ponder.” Dictionaries define it as “to consider something deeply and thoroughly; to think carefully, especially for a noticeable amount of time.” A description of pondering stated it is a “powerful link between the heart and the mind.” — This sounded more closely what I would expect Mary to have experienced.
Finally, I found an article entitled Prayerfully Pondering Like Mary: Giving God Time (https://catholicstand.com/prayerfully-pondering-like-mary-giving-god-time/ ). According to the author, “Ponder” is to set aside judgement of an event, person, or problem; to accept what is; and to allow God to show you the lessons He wants you to know. Pondering requires patience, in order to allow time for acceptance.
Mary pondered over those things that she did not understand — She did not worry! She did not get anxious! She pondered… and trusted in God. Her faith in God was powerful and because of her faith and her love of Him, she did not hesitate to give her “Yes.” Delving into these verses has given me a deeper understanding of Mary. — a woman who could live through all that she did, with total faith in God’s love for her. It is easy to understand why she was chosen to be the mother of His son.
To become more “Mary-like,” I need to learn to ponder; to accept those things in my life that I cannot understand; and most importantly, to trust that God will always give me what I need, when I need it. …Oh, and I also need a heavy dose of patience!!
Joan, you’re not alone – I was overwhelmed also! (Imagine having to come up with a commentary on almost two chapters of Luke and limit oneself to 400 words!) “Ponder” has often been my favorite word when considering Mary’s response to all these encounters, from Gabriel, to Elizabeth, to Simeon. Pondering is such a fitting response to our God-encounters as well. Thank you for sharing the link to that article!
Similar to other folks who have commented here and on the reflection, I too was a bit overwhelmed by all there was to consider and take in with this weeks passages. As one lady wrote, the “supporting characters” stood out to me, as well as Mary’s pondering. There is just so much to glean from these verses it’s hard to hone in on just one thing. Reading the reflection also offered more to ponder by comparing the Joyful Mysteries noted in the passages to the underlying Sorrowful Mysteries. I had honed in on the Joyful today as that was the rosary I had prayed this morning, but seeing how the joy can be interwoven with sorrow was an interesting perspective.
So I took a step back and decided to read the Called By Name entry for today (10.16) and it was about “Giving thanks in all circumstances” and the author mentioned joy and suffering. Ok God, I think I’m hearing you…. So I picked up Danielle Bean’s book, Whisper and where I left off is a chapter about discovering contentment in God. Danielle even goes on to mention Mary’s pondering things in her heart pointing out it was the good stuff and the hard stuff. Ok, I’m hearing you Lord. Joy does not mean there is no suffering and suffering does not mean we are without joy. All of it, joy and suffering we must bring to God and give it to Him. For like our Blessed Mother we are the Lord’s and we must let it be done to us according to His will.
Joy is easier to give to God. Suffering I have a hard time letting go of it; I want to control it, find a way to end it, where is the light at the end of the tunnel? But God wants me to give up that desire for control and bring my suffering to Him and not just get stuck wallowing in it. He wants to show me His path through it and that there can be joy too. God has been talking to me about this for a while now. And I pray everyday to give it up and everyday I take it back. May I follow Mary’s example of faith and trust.
Nikki, I love your honest reflection – especially, “Suffering I have a hard time letting go of it; I want to control it, find a way to end it, where is the light at the end of the tunnel?” You took the words right out of my head! Thank you for sharing your insights.
This week’s scripture was very long and jammed packed with salvation goodness, indeed! I loved meditating in the scripture and on the Joyful Mysteries of The Rosary at the same time! We have so many lessons to draw on from our Blessed Mother in this scripture….Her humility in the Annunciation…this humble “Fiat” to God’s plan for us……Her love and charity in the Visitation in how She went in haste to see Elizabeth and care for her….Her spiritual poverty in The Nativity as She brings Our Lord into the world in a manger in Bethlehem…..Her obedience and purity in following Jewish tradition in presenting Our Lord in the Presentation…Her joy at the Finding of Jesus in the Temple … Our Blessed Mother, and of course St. Joseph, are the perfect models of living virtuously and for God!
Barbara, I’m so glad you were able to meditate on this Scripture and the Joyful Mysteries in tandem. May we always find new lessons and not allow the repetition of these Mysteries to blunt our sense of awe and wonder. Thanks for sharing!
What stood out to me today was the fact that the Blessed Mother gets troubled and confused. Troubled by the angels announcement, confused by Jesus’ response when found in the temple. And even when the shepherds explain how they knew to find Jesus in the manger, Mary takes in all these things and ponders them in her heart. I take great comfort that I am in good company with Mary because I am troubled and confused a lot when praying, reading the scriptures and trying to discern God’s path. And as Joan mentioned previously, to ponder is to consider carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion. Again, Mary’s shining example; even amid her pondering and confusion, she said yes to God. She had full trust and faith that even if she didn’t quite get it or wasn’t 100% comfortable with it, whatever it was God was asking of her was still the right thing to do.
I trust you Lord, help me to trust you more.
I accept your will Lord, help me to accept your will everyday.
I was struck by the phrase from the angel- Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. I usually focus on the “Do not be afraid” part, but today I thought about how Mary must have felt when she heard the angel say, “You have found favor with God.” Wouldn’t we all love to hear that we had found favor with God. I can only imagine how that would deepen my love for God. And Mary’s favor with God came from her willingness to always do His will.
The other thing that struck me is that Elizabeth’s pregnancy was given as a sign, (we have had signs in every reading). I imagine that Mary and Elizabeth were quite close. I bet Mary had been praying for Elizabeth for years. What a wonderful sign to give to Mary- an answer to prayers.
Lisa, what a great insight! I think we each have found more favor with God than we realize. I know it’s hard to wrap one’s head around the reality that we are so cherished and that God delights in us so completely. Thanks for sharing.
Today I got focused in on Jesus in the temple. And I started wondering, how did Jesus know at age 12 that the temple was his Father’s house? He spoke it so matter of factly, even Mary and Joseph were confused by this. Then again, Mary was a young woman when the angel appeared to her telling how she would conceive God’s son. Both had such strong faith at such a young age, so why, as I’m well into my 48th year, do I struggle so hard to listen to God or perceive his will? Why can’t I have faith like a child? What speed bump am I stuck on? What roadblock of sin, attachment or fear have I used to build a wall to separate me? I’m so grateful for the father of the possessed boy who cried out to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” I need that help too Lord! Help me to have faith like a child.
The more I read these verses, the more encouraged I am to fully trust in God. Mary was deeply troubled by his words but I am starting to see this differently. She was not questioning this for her own selfish reasons. She was questioning whether she was worthy of God’s favor. When I question events in my life, it is because I selfishly think I know what is best, rather than trust what is God’s plan. Best should not always be the ultimate goal. Mary knew “he has deposed the mighty from their thrones, and raised the lowly to high places” and she was being called to high places. Because of her trust, she drew comfort in knowing Elizabeth would be with her and their sons would be together.
Cheryl, I love your insight that Mary recognized that “she was being called to high places.” Sometimes these changes in our lives–even good ones–can be daunting. You gave me something new to think about. Thanks for sharing.
Ponder and Joy…. The two words that just settle into my heart while reading these scriptures. I love Mary’s ability to take all things to her heart and ponder them. Thank you Joan for the article. <3 I often thought I need to do that more. I am a very type A Person. I love to plan, organize, take charge, help, minister. A True Martha, however I have been working more and more to take the time to ponder, to pray, to pause and ask God what I should do and say. It is very hard for me but I love the peace that comes when I do. The grace that washes over is spectacular.
Joy, Someone once told me that I must have had an easy life because I'm so perky and optimistic and I thought about that I replied that no! I haven't I've experienced lots of heartache, loss and suffering but in all of it with Gods help I was able to find the Joy, Find the good that came from loosing my mom at 35. Her death made me grow closer to God, get back into Church, and take better care of myself. Loosing My best Friend at 40 to Cancer brought my best friend group back together after many years and the Son of one friend married the daughter of another and their little boy just turned 5. God uses everything for his glory and to bring us closer to him. If we are open to receiving it.
Ponder and Joy