Mary and the Annunciation Reflection

Mary, asked a question, surrendered into salvation history at the Annunciation. Asked to enter a mystery that defies human reason, she allowed the mystery to enter the marrow of her soul. Even though the angel, sent from God, posed a question that provoked questions seeded from Mary’s heart, she embraced the mystery because she believed. Not immediately, for conventional rationale would defy the mystery proposed by Gabriel’s greeting. Belief attuned by God’s providence for others, an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the grace of abandoning fear and promise of a kingdom not cyclically toppled by ravages of conquest but eternally present allowed Mary to spiritually grasp the mystery. From belief emerged the will to serve, for fear of judgmental snickering and persecution vanished in surrendering to the call of God’s word. For Mary, the mystery brought freedom from pondering conventional reality to embracing a Divine design where she participated without being mired by issues of control. Mary trusted God, so she trusted the mystery.

Knowing the blessings of the mystery, today Mary is asking us to participate in the mystery of her Son’s kingdom. What tethers us to self-absorption, so we shun the mystery’s freedom? What tentacles of fear leave us in bondage, imprisoned from God’s grace? Does myopic perception encase our parameters with conventional modalities instead of envisioning innovative designs? For belief in the mystery presents not boundaries, but freedom. A freedom bestowed by God’s grace, an eternal kingdom and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit guides us through the mystery. An experience where gazing in amazement leads us beyond prayerful pondering to serve for the fulfillment of God’s will. The mystery overshadows our lives not with trepidation, but hope, not despair, but joy. Mary lived the mystery and invites us to continually conceive it in our world today.

Barb Born April 10, 2013


Mary and the Visitation Reflection

Accepting the angel’s commissioning, a joy was conceived in Mary that needed to be birthed into the world. This embrace of God necessitated she travel beyond the comfort of her abode to share her belief and awaken the joy of the Holy Spirit in Elizabeth. Mary’s joyful greeting even permeated boundaries of flesh to reach the conscience of the unborn heralder of the Messiah. Elizabeth grasped the blessedness of the Divine indwelling in Mary’s belief and the real presence coming to fruition in her womb. The encounter infused joy into the house of Zechariah where doubt had silenced belief in the God of unconventional graces. Will we venture beyond the comfort of a pew to share the joy of our belief and awaken others to the presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling in their lives? Can we look beyond self-construed boundaries of humanity with diverse ethnicity and ideologies to herald the hopeful universality of human dignity in the image of the Divine? May Mary’s courage to radiate belief ease our doubt, so we break our silence? In this essence of joy, the realm of duty vanishes. Belief that the Lord’s word will be fulfilled manifests a blessed peace and happiness of trust.

Mary realized all she portrayed reflected God’s greatness emanating through her humbleness. God provided the venue. She in belief, promised through a lineage of God’s servants, leads a chorus denouncing empty arrogance of power, greed and hardened hearts. For in belief, God’s peace, meekness, compassion and essence of justice become an effervescent joy in those risking the blessings of a servant with a humble heart.

Mary shared her joy with Elizabeth. She planted seeds of belief, so those she met would know God’s blessings. She did not even wait to celebrate the birth of John, but returned home for new challenges. Each one embraced and comforted by her belief in God’s fidelity. While Mary saw some immediate response to her presence in their midst, the total magnitude of her visit continues unfolding today. As recipients of her joy, peace and pronouncement of justice, we journey by planting seeds to share God’s blessings and peace with others.

Barb Born April 10, 2013

Mary and the Nativity Reflection

Mary’s participation in salvation history left Joseph in a quandary. He could follow social mores and dismiss her from his life. Instead, he heeded and trusted the Divine call to emerge as an active and supportive witness in faith. Living as common people, not in the echelons of power and prestige, they transitioned to spiritual celebrities modeling faithful citizenship in belief and worldly obligations. When facing a spiritual quandary, does prayerful attentiveness enlist our participation in God’s design or does temptation to follow a social tapestry condoning self-interest, domination and violence of speech, actions and socio-political objectives dominate our focus? In letting the call of the Divine permeate our mindset, not at our convenience but a constant presence, we affirm our commitment to the Prince of Peace’s birthing into the world at each moment of time and any place.

With no room at the inn, Mary wrapped the Word incarnate in swaddling clothes, in prefiguration of the shroud He would be shed in the hope and peace of the Resurrection. He was placed in a manager, a feeding and watering trough for animals in the stable seeking substance. For two millenniums, He has offered His real presence in food and drink to nourish and sustain all that surrender in humility with an affirmation of Amen. With this sacramental grace, do we include all at the spiritual and socio-economic table of life? With equality, dignity and solidarity, we should relegate no one to the dehumanizing stable of neglect and exploitation.

Gazing into the heavens invoked a call of the Divine in the shepherds’ hearts, for the Savior came with good news of great joy for all people. As the lowliest in society, God blessed the shepherds to preview and initially proclaim this gift of peace to the world. As Mary had traveled in haste, after receiving her Divine commissioning, the shepherds too felt the urgency of the moment. They then returned to work as messengers of peace defined not just as an absence of personal and societal conflict, but transcending to a well-being in the marrow of one’s soul. From knowing the indwelling of God in our lives, do we retreat to the time of convenience or infuse a priority to experience and proclaim the universal message of faith in demeanor, actions and words? A time our mind is at rest from swirling of contradictions flowing in our midst and our soul overflows with peace.

Barb Born April 10, 2013

Mary Presentation in the Temple Reflection

Forty days since the birth of Jesus signaled purification under the law. Traditionally, abstinence from touching anything sacred or entering the temple, imposed on a mother, concluded with a ritualistic sacrifice. For Mary and Joseph, they chose to share the event together, as their purification. Jesus, the Lamb of God, would be sacrificed in a few years, so they offered a pair of turtle doves in respect for the law and an installment on the ultimate sacrifice to come. No payment of five shekels was needed, for they were already a priestly family, not in title, but truth. As Mary shared her spiritual experience with Joseph, do we follow that example? Not to encase the presence of God in our lives in the isolation of our soul, but openly affirm our ritualistic practices as communal experiences in solidarity and public affirmation of faith, with prayer flowing from our dialogue with God to the fabric of our lives.

Jesus entered the temple as a babe, unable to speak, but His presence proclaimed peace to Simeon. This greeting preconfigured the words of the risen Jesus, “Peace be with you.” Simeon blessed God for seeing salvation, as Mary and Joseph looked on in amazement. His experience happened with eyes of faith, for he entered the temple accompanied by the Holy Spirit. An experience repeated for centuries, as all people with sight empowered by the Holy Spirit know the peace, live the peace and share the peace that the presence and words of Jesus bestow.

Anna chose to pray and fast in the temple without ceasing. Her worship negated potential human emotions of despair, complaining, questioning and doubt to reiterate the hope of Mary. Anna’s hope resounded from her lips to all that approached the temple awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. Her name means grace and she shared that gift, while giving thanks to God. As Anna never left the temple, we too never leave the temple, for our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. How do we acknowledge that grace, so as not to sidestep this spiritual reality of our earthly being?

Being greeted by these proclamations of her Son’s greatness, Mary’s emotions became tempered with warnings of piercing despair. A challenge embedded in belief, beyond filiation, asked of Mary and each of us. Will we let faith become our own experience, to go beyond acceptance of cultural and family traditions to belief in the God of peace that we proclaim in words and actions accentuated by the Holy Spirit in our lives? For Jesus would go on to say, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Barb Born April 10, 2013

Mary and Jesus in the Temple Reflection

Faithful to the law, the Holy Family journeyed from Nazareth to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. The annual observance brought time for camaraderie amongst family and friend in the caravan, with spiritual reflection in the Holy City. Among the flowing crowds and bustling activities, Mary lost track of Jesus, taking for granted he would join the caravan leaving for home. Do we consider ourselves followers of spiritual mores, following prescribed observances, but in the busyness of life neglect the attentiveness of Jesus accompanying us on the road of life?

Mary and Joseph searched Jerusalem three days to locate their son. They probably searched what seemed like obvious places, cafes, shops in the bazar, artisans, and all the lure of the big city for a youth from the village of Nazareth. But while Jesus could be feasting on big city experiences, he chose to feast in His Father’s house. Their search lasted three days, what seemed like an eternity, but a precursor to the Lord rising on the third day to bring hope and joy. How long have we searched for hope and joy, in what appeared as obvious channels, only to suffer anxiety? Have we come to the temple of God, to live within the kingdom of God on earth, but struggle when people try to take us away with distractions of a mundane existence?

As Jesus did in his ministry, he asked questions to teachers in the temple and Mary. Not seeking defined answers, His questions generated pondering. Arriving at the answer became an experience of self-discovery harkening trust, gratitude and surrender to the Divine indwelling. Even when we don’t understand the depth of Jesus’ question and seek to travel on OUR defined path, in His patience he accompanies us. Like Mary, may we not forget the experiences when we were challenged to find Jesus. Those times He graciously accompanies us and remember His compassion in listening to our ramblings, to pose questions that define our life. As Mary kept all these experiences in her heart, let us make room for them in our heart.

Barb Born April 10, 2013

Mary Assumption Reflection

Throughout Mary’s life, she trusted the mystery of God’s divine plan. In an inseparable union with her Son, in the work of salvation history, she traveled from the manager, to immigrant status and journeys to the temple leading many miles to stand in solidarity with the cross. Much of the time, she lived in obscurity. Not a central figure in the feeding of five thousand, healings or partaking at the Last Supper, her faith did not diminish for she journeyed in humility. She believed in the mystery to kneel at the foot of the cross, while most of the disciples retrenched in fear of persecution. The Holy Spirit first approached her by seeking a fiat of participation, accompanied her always and fulfilled her prayers in support of the early Church. Completing her earthly journey, she was taken up body and soul to share in her Son’s resurrection in the glory of heaven. Mary, as our guide, showed unwavering commitment to living the mystery. Do we grasp the mystery, in humility, with the same resolve?

Mary’s assumption, rooted in Jesus’ sinless nature, is her singular participation in the resurrection. With that hope, we wait for the resurrection of all believers. As we live our lives waiting in faith, that hope punctuates each day from the sun rising, the answered stanzas of a prayer and a smile radiating on our face, until we participate in the resurrection for all eternity.

Barb Born April 10, 2013

Mary Crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth Reflection

Mary said “YES” in the name of all human nature. We know the Lord is with her. In humble utterances, we ask her intercessions, for she has lived the mystery in union with her Son — the Son of God, positioned as the Mother of God and Mother of the Church. As our Mother, we seek her counsel and encouragement. We see her image in icons depicting diverse cultures, as a Mother, approachable by all people, who identifies with their personal needs. She flawlessly models for us the traits of her Son, exuding in peace, compassion and grace.

By the power of His Resurrection, Jesus ascends as the King of Kings. With Mary’s assumption into heaven, in unity with her Son, she transcends heaven and earth as Queen. By our baptism, we die and rise with Christ into this royal covenant. With Mary as our model and guide, how will we perpetuate the Kingdom of God here and now in our midst? Do our lives define self or self-less agendas? Can we see others as Christ or do we envision them as hated enemies? Will we assume the posture of prophets for justice and peace in challenging environs of daily life?

Life unfolds as a continuous prayer, seeped in mystery and hope. The journey of Mary is our journey, with different choices, but the same reality. May we have faith for belief to galvanize into action, knowing one day we will share in the Resurrection with a crown of faith?

Barb Born April 10, 2013