A key aspect of Dominican life is the notion that Dominicans are called to be active contemplatives. That is to say, Dominicans are called to hold together a balance between contemplative life, or mental prayer, and the activity that is ministry. as Dominicans, we are challenged to contemplate in order to hand on to others the fruits of our contemplation. As a Dominican parish, we are called to do the same.
The Blessed mother herself, also reflected this mix of active motherhood and contemplation. We can make the mistake of thinking that Mary lived an easy life. But let us consider the events of her life. After saying yes to God, Mary very shortly faced the task of convincing Joseph that while she was pregnant, and while he was not the father, she had not been unfaithful. After God’s intervention, and Mary and Joseph began their life together, there was the difficult travel undertaken while she was pregnant. There were the miraculous and yet interesting events which challenged the Blessed Mother to make sense of the events that surrounded her. In order to protect her son from a madman, she and Joseph fled with Jesus to Egypt, refugees in a strange land.
In one of my favorite passages in the Bible, Mary and the relatives seek to find Jesus, and to bring him home, because, as the gospel says, “they are convinced he is out of his mind.” Like the disciples and all followers of Jesus, understanding the person of Jesus and his ministry was not always easy, and at times was a very painful. We can forget she witnessed the public execution of her son.
But she did not become bitter, cynical, or hostile. She was able to trust God who first trusted her with this outstanding location. How was she able to do this? Surprisingly, the answer is rather easy. “She pondered all of these things in her heart.” In other words, Mary incorporated her experiences of the divine, the events of her day-to-day life, and those moments of intense challenge in a way that helped her to find meaning by discovering the deep presence of God.
And so twice during the season of Advent and Christmas, our attention is focused upon the Blessed mother. First, we recognize the outstanding privilege that God grants Mary in the immaculate conception, the privilege her son made possible for each of us in baptism. And today, we focus on the power of her motherhood, providing us a tremendous example of openness and faithfulness to God.
As we stand on the precipice of a new year, we seek to become more like Mary. We look to accept the challenge of pondering things deeply in our heart, so that we might discover more completely discover the presence of Jesus in our lives. We come to this place, to this church, to celebrate the Eucharist, the source and summit of our lives, so that the heart of God can speak to our heart. We recognize that like the Blessed mother, our lives will be a mix of wonderful events of God’s presence, many ordinary day-to-day events, and realistically probably some events which cause us suffering and pain.
In the midst of it all we’re given an invitation. While a vocation is unique to each person, we ask for the intercession of Mary that we too might give the best answer: your will be done.