There was this one time, a few weeks right after I arrived in the missions in Panamá, where I was the only one left in our parish. My two other companions were not around because they had to do attend to other commitments. A middle-aged woman probably in her late fifties suddenly came knocking on the door. She looked distressed and seemed that she needed to talk to a priest. So I brought her a chair and pull out a chair as well for me. She then started talking and telling me her story and at times would stop to cry. She was talking at a very fast. Now during this time I had just arrived at Panamá and couldn't speak nor understand that well the Spanish language yet. But I could pick out some words and it was clear that she was really troubled. I just kept silent for most of the time. When she was done talking I wanted to console her with words too and tell her about how God never abandons us etc. but I just couldn't express myself that well in Spanish and she couldn't understand English either. So I just told her, "No hablo ni entiendo muy bien el español pero rezaré por usted." (I don't speak nor understand Spanish that well but I will pray for you.) Afterwards, she said "Gracias, Padre" then gave me a hug and left.
Every time I remember this experience I can’t help but think about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I wonder what it was like for her. The gospel of Luke, tells us that she was silent and “kept all these things, reflecting them in her heart.” Perhaps she was silent because she had difficulty in understanding all that was happening. A few months back the angel announced to her that she was going to be the mother of God and now, in the gospel, shepherds who she had never met arrive at the manger adoring the baby Jesus. Later on, she would see her son being praised by a certain Simeon in the temple and by a prophetess named Anna. Then, her son would get lost in Jerusalem only to be found three days later in the midst of experts and teachers and when asked why he remained in Jerusalem he would reply, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And perhaps the most painful of all, she would have to endure watching her son being crucified. All of these experiences show to us an important trait of Mary, her fidelity. Although she did not understand completely all that was happening she silently remained faithful to her mission all throughout her life and she continued to trust in the Lord up to the end.
Yes, Mary silently carried out her mission and she did not talk much. In fact, in the gospels, we can only see Mary talk very few times. But perhaps she did not need to because through her silence she teaches us that the emphasis should be on the Word made flesh, her son Jesus, and not in her own words. She teaches us, that at times, the most important language is a language that is beyond words, the language of love. And that this language of love is far better expressed through actions and not words. And, true indeed, she clearly expressed that love through her faith and fidelity to God’s mission entrusted to her, and in her fidelity to God’s Word. Even Jesus himself recognized this in Mary when in Luke 8:21 he said; “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the Word of God and act on it.” Moreover, her fidelity can even be seen after Jesus’ death as she would appear in the Acts of the Apostles 1:14 as part of the believing community. This means she remained faithful even after Jesus was no longer around.
The celebration of the Motherhood of Mary, therefore, stands as a good reminder for all of us to be faithful to our vocations whether we be religious, priests, fathers, mothers, single persons, or young men or women etc. And above all, it is also a reminder for all of us of to be
faithful to the principal commandments of loving God and our neighbor. As we begin the civil year let us start it right with Mary, our model of fidelity, as our guide all throughout the year, so that even if we encounter in the future, problems, and crisis and be faced with situations that sometimes we do not understand why they are happening to us, we would continue to remain faithful to God and the vocation He has entrusted to us. And, like Mary, may our fidelity be coupled with perseverance so that it may endure up to the end. Mary teaches us that yes it is possible for us, human beings, to achieve holiness of life as long as we remain faithful to God and His mission for us.
May we, like Mary, through our faithfulness, be able to conceive Jesus in our hearts as well.
Fray Jerik Troy P. Siozon, OAR
January 1, 2018