Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mary and Jesus the Journey Continues



Mary's life of prayer was matched by her deep and abiding love for God with complete trust and confidence. Mary never questioned God but instead pondered all things in her heart.

Through witnessing her humble obedience, Jesus learned that without trust there can be no love. Mary loved God with a depth that only her Son witnessed throughout his life.

Therefore when Jesus said, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" This is not a disavowal of Mary, but, is indeed a testament to Mary's deep Faith and love in God. For Jesus saw from his infancy the great love and filial confidence that Mary displayed in her intense love for The Triune Spirit.

Also, Jesus understood that His Mother was the perfect example of following God and living her Faith, with humble obedience. So the above statement clarifies Mary's deep and abiding Faith in God, and her relationship through prayer with the Heavenly Father.

Jesus then continues, "Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother".

Once again this reiterates Mary's August position for who else obeyed God without fault than his beloved Mother.

Remember Zechariah doubted the Angel and therefore temporarily lost his speech because of his doubt.

Mary did not doubt, and it was in her innocence and purity, God found the perfect receptacle to hold within her womb, His Beloved Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Mary would have contemplated every word that Jesus spoke without questioning His right to do so, for she knew to whom she was listening but the Apostles and friends of Jesus did not.

There were times where the people cried in the street, as Jesus passed by "Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you". Jesus never once corrected them, for what they said was Holy Truth.

It is this example of humble love and an obedient spirit that would have provided the Apostles and followers of Jesus much hope. For even though their minds grasped that this was The Messiah, their hearts needed the reassuring presence of one who did not question who Jesus IS.

Though Mary was quiet, the intensity of her love for God would have been apparent to all who crossed their paths and so would her deep prayer life. In that in order to hear God one must listen first, ponder much, and ask for little towards self, and much towards others.

The women most especially would have followed Mary's example and alongside Mary they would have provided and supplied both Jesus and the Apostles with the necessities needed to continue their Mission.

But even though Mary would have kept much to herself, the shadow of what lay before her son would have intruded upon her thoughts, as she pondered this too in her heart of hearts.

Peace of Christ to you ALL
Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Mary Her Life of Prayer



Mary Leads in Prayer


Mary from the beginning was a woman who inherently embraced prayer as a way of life, it was not a ritual for her, but was the cornerstone of her life, for she nourished prayer as she had nourished her Son.

This would have been a part of their lives from the beginning, and it would have been as a family that they would have prayed together, Mary, her husband Joseph, and the young Jesus.

And even though Mary would have turned even her work into a prayer, still she knew the importance of a spirit of solitude when praying to our Heavenly Father, for one needs to have these solitary moments in order to be replenished. So Mary from the beginning would have needed to spend time alone with God, as did Jesus during his Ministry, perhaps he learned this at his Mothers knee.

This would also have shown a great example to all those who followed Jesus, for the prayer life of Jesus and Mary went beyond keeping the Law and instead focused who was at the centre of their lives, which was their Father in Heaven. So, through the example of them both many would have seen that neither Jesus nor Mary allowed themselves to be enchained by the Law, but neither did they break it. Instead they fulfilled it by making God the centre of their lives and existence.

So even thought this most Holy of families always observed the Law, they were not enslaved by it but instead fostered relationship over and above rituals, for even though the rituals of their Faith had its place it was not a substitute for a relationship with God. They understood that God does not seek outside observances, but instead He sought to be the centre of their lives, and indeed He was. For Mary understood perfectly that God does not need rituals to be enforced, but He calls all into relationship with Him, and through Jesus we see the face of God.

Jesus through observing Mary and Joseph would have also understood that God is to be at the centre of one's life, hence His need from the beginning to be alone with His Father in Heaven. Even unto staying in the Temple where his wisdom amazed and astonished all who listened to him, from one so young.

So through Jesus public Ministry the Apostles and all of those who followed Jesus would have observed the centrality of both Jesus and Mary's prayer life, and a growing understanding would have illuminated their minds as to the importance of combining prayer into all their activities.

This would have been a revolutionary concept to the Apostles and Jesus friends, who though they observed the Law, had little concept of a relationship with their Father in Heaven. Some may have even felt excluded from God's Presence because of the confinements of these Law's, which instead of freeing their spirits, instead burdened it with rituals and rites over relationship!

I am sure Mary shared many of her experiences with these friends of her beloved son, and also through her example, many also would have wondered at the level and depth of her prayer life and her love for God.

This would have led to these very same friends of Jesus to also long to have what Mary had in abundance, a deep and prayerful love for the Father. And through the examples of both Jesus and Mary these Apostles and followers would also foster their prayer life in a longing to be close to their Father in Heaven.

And though Mary nourished her prayer life, even if at times she did not always understand the Will of God, yet she was obedient to Him. For Mary understood that one must always trust in God, in the midst of life and also in the midst of confusion, for Mary also pondered the words spoken by Simeon,"and a sword shall pierce your own soul too."

Peace of Christ to you ALL
Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Jesus and Mary Their Journey



The beginning of Jesus Ministry did not mean that Mary's involvement lessened nor that she was cast aside, for Mary too was to play an integral part in her Son's Ministry.

It would have been Mary that provided a listening heart to his many friends and followers, as she welcomed them into her home and traveled with them as Jesus preached, taught, and healed the wounded and sick.

I am sure that Mary would have provided a keen insight into their home life to the Apostles, and shared her family joys and sorrows with them. But Mary also was a woman of quiet contemplation and of few words, so she would have listened to these friends of Jesus and provided comfort in their times of confusion and bewilderment.

Wherever they journeyed Mary and the women disciples would have provided care and comfort for not only Jesus but his friends and followers. This meant cooking traditional meals such as bread, the vegetables that were in season, fish, served with olives and goats cheese and meals such as Labaneh and other dishes, spiced with the herbs of the area.

Mary would have also provided a good example for the women followers of Jesus and they would have helped Mary in keeping what ever home they stayed in clean and tidy. They also would have helped Mary in the cooking; one can imagine the men gathered around Jesus listening to him as he spoke to them of the Kingdom of God, whilst Mary and the other women prepared the meals. But what Mary would have shown these women disciples of Jesus, is that though one may be busy at their tasks, still one listens to the voice of God, in a spirit of humble obedience, even in the midst of preparing and cleaning.

So though Mary occupied herself with the daily ritual of cooking, cleaning, knitting and darning the clothes of her Son and his friends, with the help of the other women, she would have incorporated prayer into every activity. This would have been a wonderful example for the other women to follow and is central to the Mission of Jesus, that women were not second class citizens but were an essential part to his Ministry!

But there also would have been occasions of humour and fun amidst the seriousness, and Mary would have shared stories of the infant Jesus and her beloved but deceased husband Joseph, as they conversed together in a spirit of fellowship.

And through the love that Jesus had for his mother, it would have also allowed the other Apostles to see the value which Jesus placed on the importance of women in his Ministry and for women in general.

One only has to look at the woman caught in the act of adultery, when the men were ready to stone her, it was Jesus who whilst writing in the sand asked the question of the mob, "if any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her". For Jesus did not break the Law of Moses but fulfilled it by recognising the inequality and injustice which would have been perpetrated against the woman in question! But neither did Jesus condone the womans act and told her to "go now and leave your life of sin".

So throughout Jesus Ministry, Mary too had her role, which was to provide an example of Holy obedience with true meekness of heart and soul, and to ennoble the role of women in the life of Jesus, and in what was to come.

Peace of Christ to you ALL
Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Mary Ponders All Things



Mary would have lived a life typical of others in her region, in that she too had housework to do, food to prepare and clothes to mend. The difference is that Mary united all she did with God acknowledging His Awesome Majesty; she is a woman of quiet contemplation, who pondered all things in her heart.

Even in the midst of confusion and with great anxiety when she finally found her Son Jesus in the Temple, she questioned how her Son could bring this trouble to both her and Joseph. And though Jesus explained to her why He had done this, Mary simply pondered the meaning of her son’s words in the depths of her heart.

There must have been many times when Mary leaned on her chaste spouse Joseph, to help her and also lead her in their most Holy of Marriages. For upon their union it was to Joseph as head of the house that the Angels appeared and instructed him to flee and when it was safe to return to their homeland. This tells us the order in which God provides for us all to follow, in that the man IS the head of the household and God dignified Joseph's role as head of this most Holy family.

So it truly must have brought great grief to Mary when she lost her beloved spouse, who had helped protect and provide for her and their son Jesus. So upon the death of Joseph, Mary would have relied deeply on her beloved Son Jesus, for comfort but also for company.

So upon the commencement of his Ministry, Jesus also would have brought many new people into Mary's life, for she was not just a follower but was instrumental in Jesus' Completion of His Mission. Mary would have made all those who Jesus called friends a part of her growing family. This also afforded an opportunity for Mary to show other women how to live their lives in perfect conformity to the Will of God.

For Mary's role in the Ministry of her Son was not a passive one, but one of strength through prayer. She laid the ground work of what true contemplation is, and was an example to all those around her of quiet submission, humility and meekness, whilst living a daily round of her regular duties.

Mary would have helped develop Jesus as he grew strong under the reassuring presence of Joseph and both would have inculcated the young Jesus with a love of the land and the varying seasons from which they lived. Their lives would have been the lives of simple country folk, yet their Faith sets them apart from other families. This would have provided Jesus with a great asset of knowing how men lived and what moved their hearts, and was probably the instigator in his parables when teaching the Disciples and all those who followed him.

But before Jesus could commence his Ministry, he as most mature adults do, left home where he met his cousin John in order to be baptized in the Jordan River. After this Jesus left to spend 40 days and nights in the desert, where he overcame the tempter.

This must have been a difficult and perhaps lonely time for Mary, as she was without her husband or her son, but it also would have provided her an opportunity to pray and prepare herself for what lay ahead.

Their lives must have been so ordinary and normal in that when Jesus returned to Nazareth the words that greeted him were, "Where did this man get all this?" they said when he spoke in their synagogue. "Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary?" Jesus was to be rejected in the very place that formed his childhood, never to return. This must have grieved Mary deeply, as I am sure many of those who had rejected her Son, were a part of her life. She would have formed friendships with many of them, only to see them reject her beloved Son, and even family members accuse Jesus of instability.

One can also imagine what Mary would have felt upon hearing of the arrest of her cousins son, John the Baptist, as she pondered this and many more things in her heart. No longer was Mary at the centre of the young Jesus' life, nor was she abandoned as her life unfolded as her son's Ministry began.

Peace of Christ to you ALL
Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Joseph and Mary A Holy Union


Joseph a Man Among Men

The Scriptures don’t reveal much about Joseph, but the little that is shown in Scripture is very telling. For it lets us know, immediately that not only was Joseph a good and kind man, but he was also obedient to God, in that Joseph never questioned the Angel that directed the path which he should take in order to protect the life of both Mary and Jesus.
We also know Joseph to be kind and compassionate when he recognised that Mary was with child, in full knowledge that he was not the father, Joseph bore no ill feelings towards Mary, though hurt and confused he must have been. So when he made the decision to quietly let Mary go, he did so to once again protect Mary from the authorities.
Of course we know the Angel appeared to Joseph and unlike Zechariah, Joseph did not question the Angels Divine intent, but simply trusted that this was Truth and took Mary as his espoused wife. Joseph truly is the shining example of a man who trusted God, but also a man in which God Himself placed much trust in, for God recognised Joseph’s humility and entrusted the protection and upbringing of His Beloved Son.
Scripture also reveals that Joseph was also was a devout man who from obedience maintained the Strictures of the Law, and took his family each year to Jerusalem for the Passover. So from this we know that Joseph was a man of great Faith, a man who trusted God implicitly, a good and Honourable man, but how did he live?
Joseph like Mary would have led an ordinary life within an extraordinary family. He was a very capable carpenter and one can imagine Joseph making furnishings and other necessities for their home life, as well as fulfilling any work obligations for his customers in that Joseph was not a wealthy man and had to provide a good living for his Holy family.
There would have been great difficulties, in that it was placed on Joseph to protect this most Holy of families, and also some hardships, in that whilst their son Jesus grew healthy and strong, many other fathers and mothers had lost their first sons by Herods cruel edict!
But Joseph was a man who kept his own counsel and gained his strength through prayer, for it was hard living in those days of heat, dust, insects and a multitude of discomforts, all of these conditions Joseph would have worked under, yet not once did he ever complain.
Both Mary and Joseph would have raised Jesus within their chaste and Holy marriage as a normal family, we know this by Scripture when Jesus went missing only for both parents to find Jesus in the Temple three days later. One can imagine the concern, fear and anxiety that both Mary and Joseph would have gone through, and the relief upon finding Him, when to the amazement of all who was listening to the young Jesus and the intensity of his Wisdom, as he questioned and listened to the Elders. And when upon finding their beloved son it was Mary who queried why her son had gone missing but not Joseph, who once again, maintained his own counsel.
These years before Jesus ministry were blessed ones for both parents, in that they would have shared jokes and stories, with the child Jesus sitting at their feet and learning from them both. Joseph would have shared the carpentry trade with the youthful Jesus, teaching him how to make furniture and other equipment needed to farm that harsh landscape. They were indeed a happy and holy family taking joy in each others company, living simplistic lives and at the centre of their lives were always their love for God and their Faith.
Joseph was not merely a representation of a father figure; he was in the true sense a most noble father to his son Jesus, protective of him, teaching him the Faith, instructing him on life issues and the vagaries of nature. Showing a filial and most Holy and Chaste love for his wife, Mary, all these things Joseph taught the young Jesus as any father would do.
So it must have brought true grief to both Mary and Jesus when this most Holy of men died. Unfortunately Scripture does not reveal when this took place but there is speculation that it was before Jesus Ministry as Joseph is not mentioned when Jesus began His Ministry. Joseph would have died with the two he loved most, surrounding his bed, his beloved and chaste wife Mary and his beloved son Jesus his Savior, one can imagine the peaceful passing of one so great in obedience and in spirit.
St. Joseph is the most perfect example of not only humble obedience but for all fathers who are raising their own families, for in Joseph and Mary we have a true guide as what constitutes a family. One who lived his Faith in total trust of God's Goodness, in providing an income for this most holy family and of instilling a strong Faith because the love for his Faith sprang from within.
Joseph and Mary truly are and lived the meaning of a Holy Union, let us all learn from this most Holy of Parents.
Peace of Christ to you ALL
Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mary Her Life and Mission Unfolds


Upon the birth of her son, both Mary and Joseph would have followed the Jewish Law at the time, and had him circumcised, giving him the name Jesus. Once again following Jewish custom they would have taken the baby Jesus to have him consecrated to God. It was here that Simeon upon recognising the child’s mission, exclaimed with prophesying joy "You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected -- and a sword shall pierce your own soul, too -- so that the secrets of many hearts may be laid bare."
Joseph and Mary then returned to their home in Nazareth. It was when they had returned to their home that an Angel warned Joseph of imminent danger to the baby Jesus and to flee the area because of Herod’s decree. Joseph gathered Mary and the baby and they then journeyed to Egypt, it must have been a very uncomfortable journey in that Mary was still nursing Jesus, and both their hearts must have been heavy to leave the land of their birth.
It was in the safety of Egypt that Joseph and Mary raised the infant Jesus, teaching him the Truths of their Faith and love of God. Upon being told of the death of Herod by an Angel, Joseph and Mary returned to their beloved home land. Both parents would have lived a traditional life, Joseph as a carpenter was providing an income from which the family survived and Mary keeping their home clean and the preparation of foods. Mary would have cooked traditional meals using what ever vegetables were that particular season, she may even have kept a garden to supply their daily needs, in what was a harsh terrain. The meals would have consisted of leeks, onions, grapes, olives; they may have kept a goat in order to supply milk to make yogurt and cheese mixed with different herbs. As Mary cooked the meals one can imagine the smells emanating from her kitchen, of bread being baked, the different herbs used, and perhaps whilst preparing each dish, the infant Jesus would have been in proximity, as Mary lovingly prepared their meals.
Mary's days consisted of taking care of the needs of her family, which also included making and mending clothes worn by both Joseph and Jesus, and also her own. Like any woman, Mary would have kept a clean and spotless home; visitors would have been welcomed as stories were exchanged around hardy tables, chairs or mats made by Joseph.
But upon Mary's heart would have been the added burden of knowing how many Mothers lost their first born son when Herod commenced the 'Killing of the Innocents'. This must have grieved Mary deeply, as unlike her, many mothers did not know who Jesus is, and therefore many mothers must have wondered why their sons died and yet Mary's son did not.
As Mary an extraordinary woman, lived an ordinary life, her mission too was now unfolding.
Peace of Christ to you ALL
Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.