Written on: September 6, 2019
Today is the Feast of Our Blessed Mother’s Nativity.
Since this date falls on a Sunday this year, I wondered how I could still honor Mary in this reflection. However, when I began to read the selections for this twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary time I recognized the role of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I was not disappointed.
“Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?”
How appropriate this First Reading from the Book of Wisdom is for each person, no matter what our calling. Whether you are single, married, clergy, or a member of a Religious Congregation, none of us could have guessed what the future would hold for us. The author continues: “…For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans.”
Today’s Responsorial antiphon proclaims: “In every age, O God, You have been our refuge!” How else could any of us have continued in our chosen vocation? Those who serve as medical personnel see how fragile life is as you handle life and death decisions. Educators strive daily to meet the academic and often social needs of their students. Police and Firefighters put their lives on the line each day, often forced to make spur of the moment decisions. Those who are parents must try to guide their children to become responsible adults. It’s not easy for any of us.
Fifty-nine years ago, when I entered the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart Congregation with twenty-four other young women, we were each met by a line of Professed Sisters who greeted us with a sign of peace and the prayer for “Perseverance!” I did not appreciate this traditional welcome at the time; it was only much later that I realized the wisdom of that prayerful wish.
Each of us is called to rely on God’s providential care and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. One might say that this is like our very own special GPS.
At first glance, today’s Gospel seems quite unsettling. Jesus did not mince words when He declared that “…anyone who comes to me who does not hate [his/her] father and mother, [spouse] and children, brothers and sisters, and even [his/her] own life… cannot be My disciple!” The use of the word “hate” is shocking. Why would Christ use such negative language? Surely, Jesus did not literally mean that we should hate our parents and loved-ones! Instead, it is my understanding that Our Lord could foresee how difficult it would be for all of us, His followers, to be detached from anything or anyone that would prevent us from serving His people.
Now, I would like to return to the subject of Mary’s birthday.
Although we know nothing about this event or any details of her early life, we traditionally celebrate the feast of her parents, Saints Anne and Joachim. We do know that Mary was raised as a child of a loving God. Her religious training enabled her to respond to God’s will. Mary’s “Fiat!” has been echoed throughout the years as others, including us, have chosen to follow her Son’s invitation to “Follow Me…!” As each of us recalls our own initial call in life, may we continue to imitate Mary’s devotion to Her Son’s mission of loving service.