The Immaculate Heart of Mary

His mother kept all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:51)

Today’s Gospel reading makes it clear that whatever the Immaculate Heart of Mary means, it doesn’t mean that Mary was serene and untroubled. It doesn’t mean that she was devoid of questions about what God was asking of her and how her son’s special vocation was to unfold. The question she asks of Jesus here even sounds like a reproach. Why have you done this to us? We have been very worried about you. Any parent can supply the next line: Next time you decide to do something like this, at least let us know beforehand!

To add to the puzzlement, Jesus responded with a question of his own. Why were you looking all over town for me? Didn’t you think that I would be drawn to this place?

Luke tells us that they didn’t understand what Jesus meant at that moment. But Mary wanted to understand more fully, so she stored this incident in her heart and pulled it out from time to time to reflect on it. She didn’t just stew over the way Jesus treated her and Joseph; she asked what it meant. What was it about Jesus’ relationship with his heavenly Father that would move him—a mere youth—to abandon his parents and spend three days in a big city by himself? Only when Jesus left home and began his public ministry could Mary begin to find answers to questions like these.

What does it mean to ponder? It means to sit quietly with our thoughts—and with the Lord. It may also involve a bit of reading to help bolster our understanding, and perhaps even a conversation with a wise friend. This kind of pondering will help us when we want to bring our own reproaches before the Lord. Rather than dwelling on the immedi­ate situation that has disturbed us, prayerful pondering helps us gain a bigger picture—one that has room for God’s love and provision.

So don’t be afraid to ask tough questions, just as Mary did. Just make sure you also return to the cen­tral truths that Mary clung to: God loves me, and I want to love God more. As long as this center is intact, every other concern and attachment will find its proper place.

“Immaculate Heart of Mary, draw me into loving conversation with your son.

1 Kings 19:19-21 Psalm 16:1-2,5,7-10