A 14-year-old girl is chosen to be the Mother of the Messiah, to be impregnated by and espoused to the Holy Spirit, though she is already betrothed to a man. This is worthy of stoning and death. She is confused by what is happening. Scripture says she is troubled. She asks in her prayer, “How can this be?” On the surface, this seems like a dark, confusing, frightening time for Mary. And if the story ends there, it would be. But it doesn’t end there. It is a joyful story of new life given to her in the form of a baby and all of us in the form of a Savior. This is the most joyful story ever told… but it is through Mary’s patience, acceptance, and faith that it comes about. Lord, give me the grace of patience, acceptance, and faith to let these troubling and confusing times unfold. May I trust in your will for me and your plan, which has only good things in store.
The newly pregnant Mary sets out on a journey to visit her pregnant cousin Elizabeth. The is the second joyful mystery, but at first glance, it does not appear joyful. First, the journey is by foot across the desert, and she is pregnant. Second, she is going to help her family through a less-than-ideal situation. Elizabeth is elderly and pregnant, and her husband, Zechariah, is mute. He lost his ability to speak. She is on her way to a difficult and confusing situation, but because of her charity and selflessness, Mary brings God into it, and the situation changes into a joyful one. Elizabeth is blessed, John, the baby, is sanctified, and at the child’s birth, Zachariah regains speech. Lord, give me the grace of love of neighbor despite my own difficulties and trials. May I be able to act with selflessness so that you will be seen in me. Lord, change my current situation into a joyful one and bring about healing and sanctification of all involved.
What is perhaps the most joyful of all stories starts out as the most confusing and worrisome. Joseph and Mary are required by law to take a long journey to Bethlehem (for the census) right before Mary is due. This is not what they planned. Then when they arrive, the baby too is about to arrive, but they cannot find a room at the Inn, so they take shelter in the stable. This is not what they planned. The most joyful moment of all time does not come about how they planned or envisioned. But rather through confusion, rejection, maternal need, darkness, and uncertainty. The Savior of mankind comes into the world via their trustful surrender to it all. Lord, may I too receive that grace of peace amidst confusion and acceptance amidst rejection. May I have the grace to exhibit trust instead of worry, even when your Divine will is not what I had planned. May the darkness and confusion I experience now be transformed into a joyful story.
As was the custom in their time, Jesus and Mary take baby Jesus and present Him in the Temple. The joy of that day would be similar to the joy of a baby’s baptism today. But more so, of course, because He is the Messiah. However, Mary receives the news at the Presentation from the prophet Simeon. He tells her that her Heart will be pierced “too,” meaning that Jesus’ will also be pierced. The joyful presentation has a dark, confusing, and worrisome cloud lingering now for Mary. But her unwavering trust in God does not allow this prophesy to taint the joyful celebration. Instead, we are told she “held these things in her heart.”
Lord, grant me the grace to trust you unwaveringly in times of heartbreak and confusion. DO not let me let the knowledge of future sorrows taint present joys. Help me to hold these things in my Heart and to live fully present in the beauty of “now.” May your grace sustain me now and forever.
The Finding in the Temple:
The joyful moment where Joseph and Mary find the child Jesus in the Temple is a precedent to their losing Him. They did not just lose Him at a gathering or in town. They left town without Him and traveled a day's journey before noticing. This joyful mystery happened only after they realized he was gone. After much searching, much agony, much travel back to the town they left. The finding of Jesus came about only through the perseverance, diligence, and fortitude of Joseph and Mary. Lord, grant me the grace of this same perseverance, diligence, and fortitude… that I too may find the strength to push forward and keep going amidst what seems like an impossible situation. Though my Heart feels so much loss and panic and uncertainty, give me peace that surpasses understanding. Give me a steady mind and the firm resolve to seek and find you, Jesus, in this confusion. And may you turn this current sorrow into joy.