“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
Each time I hear this phrase in scripture I wonder at what Mary did keep in her heart. I try to image how a young girl in her times reacted to these astonishing things that were happening to her.
The appearance of an angel!
Hearing who sent the angel!
The angel’s message!
The astonishing news about her cousin Elizabeth!
And now while pregnant, after making an arduous trip to Bethlehem; she gives birth to her son in a stable. All these things have to be playing on her mind and in her heart. Here is her child, the one who is to lead his people, Israel, arriving under less than glorious conditions. Mary may have been asking herself, “What next, Lord?”
And what was next were the shepherds.
Shepherds arriving at the stable had to be remarkable in of itself. Shepherds, by virtue of their lifestyles, rarely came into town. Their lives were spent in the hills and meadows tending their sheep; protecting them from predators and their own lack of good judgement (more on sheep at another time). The shepherds couldn’t just leave their flocks alone in the hills, so in all likelihood they arrived with their sheep. A visual wonder with an overpowering odor and noise for Mary to reflect on.
And these shepherds bring Mary the news of what was told to them by the angel and all that they had seen and heard. This too she kept in her heart as she contemplated the child in her arms; nursing at her breast.
I like to think on the strength of Mary and her calm acceptance of all these amazing things happening to this young girl chosen by God to bring Emmanuel, God-with-us, into the world. Only the most perfect Mother of God could calmly live these experiences without doubts, fears or hesitations – accepting all these things, reflecting on them in her heart: remembering what had been told her by the angel – accepting the truth of God with complete faith and love.