Mary Knew

Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?  My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

                                                 — John 2:1-5

 Mary knew.

She remembered it all.

She remembered, as if it were yesterday, the appearance of the angel, the voice with which he had spoken, and the startling words he had said to her.

She recalled, with almost shocking clarity, the sights, sounds and smells of the moment in which she had said yes to God.  She had stood at the crossroads for less than a heartbeat, but her whole life, as she looked back on it, would be divided into Before and After that instant.

She could never forget the embarrassment that followed as her body changed, and she remained eternally grateful for Joseph — sweet, kind, devoted Joseph — who believed and stayed and supported her all the days of his life.

She remembered the long, uncomfortable journey, the jolting miles on the donkey’s back, the stench of the overcrowded city and the panic of having nowhere to go, while her body began making its rhythmic, insistent demands.

How could she ever forget that birth?  The long hours of labor, the inescapable, mounting pain, the final complete surrender, followed by – oh, blessed memory – the baby, that wet, warm infant, with his tiny flailing arms and little mewing cries and sweet, delicious scent.

She recalled, in that beautiful afterward, when the pain had stopped, the baby had been wrapped, and his downy head was against her cheek – she recalled weathered faces, peeking around the corner, and a group of men, in rough robes smelling of the outdoors, tiptoeing near to peek at the baby, their eyes bright, their whispered voices speaking of light and angels and astonishing news.

She remembered, later, the curly-haired toddler with his fingers in his mouth, staring at the strange men from the east, pointing at the camels behind them, opening and closing the lids of the boxes which contained the mysterious gifts from far away.

She thought of the mixture of worry and faith with which she and Joseph had scoured the city looking for their son, the flood of relief that swept over her when she recognized his small figure among the men in the temple, and the stab in her heart as she saw the otherworldly expression on his face as he turned and smiled at her.

She knew.  Mary knew.

She would never forget the kind, strong young man he grew to be – how he would anticipate her needs, carry things for her, and how she would find bunches of wildflowers among her pots as she tended to her work, placed there by a not-so-mysterious hand.

She had spent years pondering, tucking sights and words and memories away in her mind, and praying, praying, rocking on her knees and beseeching for strength, for submission, for God’s will to be done despite her nagging fears.

And now – this tall, bright-eyed man, dressed in his best clothes at a wedding, looking back at her with a touch of amusement, saying, in so many words, “You have done your part.  This is my journey now.  Please, no help.”

Another pivotal moment.  Once his ministry started, once he began to reveal who he was and why he had come, the clock would start ticking.  Only temporarily could people tolerate God in their midst.  The light, once lit, would shine on this earth only for a while.  The snuffing out would soon come.  Mary knew it.

Another crossroads.  Another Before and After moment.  Another embracing of the unknown, another leap of faith, another moment of choosing to trust.

Mary knew – yet chose, again and again, to say yes to God.

May God give us the strength to do the same.

Amen.

 


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