Past events shape our lives - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Past events shape our lives

It is not at all unusual that media outlets — electronic and print — will give much time and space this weekend to the events of the past year.

There will be stories of global, national and local events and personalities, which influenced us for good or ill and, somehow, shaped our lives.

We’ll remember serious things like hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the deaths of people who gave much to the human family. We’ll remember lighter and happier elements of life — people who made a difference, events that brightened the heart.

Many such stories appear in news sections, but they salt sports, feature and business sections as well — the 10 best and worst teams, films and investments of the year.

I expect that you are as interested in these stories as I am. They do help us to keep in mind those things we should never forget, and they help us to enjoy once again other realities that we will soon forget.

Part of the appeal of these end-of-the-year stories is that they allow us to remember and supply a context for people and events in our own experiences that will never be in the media, but which nevertheless shape our lives.

And so, on this weekend we tend to turn to the year past. We remember Mary’s wedding, Sam’s funeral, Ann’s confirmation and Benjamin’s first days in college. Memories of the courageous way in which Lillian coped with cancer and Walter and Sheila’s joy when they finally conceived touch us anew because they speak to us about human strengths and possibilities.

The Gospel for today’s celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, speaks to the theme of searching for meaning, of searching for God in our daily human experience. As he teaches us about the birth of Jesus, St. Luke tells us that “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”

That comment in Luke about Mary’s reflection on her experience — like the entire infancy narrative — carries a sense of continuity. In other words, Mary pondered deeply not only the reality of her Son’s birth but her total experience of Jesus during the years of his life. She pondered his words. She contemplated his actions. She reflected on the unique and profound relationship she had with him.

From the moment of her encounter with the angel when she spoke her radical, faith-filled “yes” to God, to the moment when she cradled her crucified Son in her arms, Mary reflected on her experience of Jesus. And it was through that reflection that God taught her, shaped her and brought her to the fullness for which she was made.

Luke leaves no detailed record of all the interactions between Mary and Jesus. But I think we can be sure that Mary contemplated more than the Gospel-cited moments of Jesus’ life. She tended to the infant’s needs. She nursed him and cared for him in illness. Doubtless she fretted about his passage through adolescence. Most of all she marveled in his growth and rejoiced in his integrity. That she suffered with him is beyond doubt, but their life-long association surely left her with deeply joyful experiences that gave her strength to bear it all.

When you hear or read year-in-review stories these days, I hope that you’ll find time for your own personal year in review. I do believe that Luke’s reference to Mary is there for a purpose — inviting us to imitate her discipleship by contemplating the way her Son touches and teaches us in the big and small events in life, in the good times and the bad ones.

I wish you much joy on this Feast of Mary and great happiness in this new year.

Peace to all.

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