It’s amazing how sometimes a chance remark or a word spoken in jest can lead one to think something anew or with a fresh point of view.
Father Ignatius was helping with the dismantling of the Nativity scene in Church and putting away the various statues safely for use the following Christmas. One of the helpers lifted the statue of the Virgin Mary and remarked: “Look at her face. She looks sad. It’s as if she knew what was to happen to Jesus when He grew up.”
“She’s probably tired after giving birth,” replied another helper.
“No … she looks sad, not tired. Do you think she knew that Jesus would be crucified, Father?”
Father Ignatius sat down on a nearby chair.
“I think we need a rest, at least I know I do …” he said.
The other helpers stopped for a while.
“It’s a good question you ask …” continued the priest, “many people have argued about the Virgin Mary over the years, and no doubt will continue to do so. Not everyone holds her in such high regards as we do. Some see her as a woman who gave birth to the Son of God, and just that.
“Many doubt her various Apparitions throughout the world.
“As for how much she knew … well that’s another matter.”
“What do you mean, Father?”
The priest finished cleaning his glasses and put them on again. It was a trick he had perfected when he wanted some thinking time.
“Let’s consider Mary when the Angel Gabriel announced what is to happen. Did the Angel just tell her about the Birth of Jesus, or did he, or the Holy Spirit perhaps, also tell her of what is to happen after that?
“Was she told that Jesus would grow up to perform many miracles? That His Mission on earth was to redeem us from our sins? That He would be arrested, beaten, tortured, have a crown of thorns put on His head, made to carry His own Cross and then nailed cruelly to it until He died in agony?”
“I’m not sure … the Bible doesn’t say much about this,” said one of his listeners.
“No, the Bible doesn’t …” continued the priest, “it does not record everything. For example, we have a gap in Christ’s life from the age of twelve, when He was found in the temple by His parents, to the age of thirty or so when He started His Mission on earth.
“The Gospels in particular focus mainly on Christ, as they should, and don’t mention Mary or Joseph very much.”
“Well what do you think Father?” he was asked again.
“What I think is only a personal point of view.
“I doubt that God would have asked her to become the Mother of Jesus without telling her what this entailed.
“I believe the Holy Spirit would have told her what is to happen. We don’t know in how much detail … we can only guess at that. And throughout her life, from the moment the Angel Gabriel visited her, she had snippets of confirmation of what is to happen.
“When she visited Elizabeth … we learn that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and confirmed ‘you are the most blessed amongst women, and blessed is the child you will bear!’
“When she presented the baby Jesus in the temple, Simeon warned her ‘and sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.’
“And when at the age of twelve, His parents found Jesus in the temple, He said ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ And Mary treasured all these things in her heart.
“Yes … I believe she knew quite a lot what was to happen to Jesus.”
“Wow … no wonder she looks so sad …” exclaimed one of the helpers.
“This leads us to consider something else,” added the priest.
“Imagine you knew every detail that is to happen in your life. Every illness, sad moment and unhappiness that is to happen. And you could not change it. You had to go through it. How would you feel? Would you be able to cope with the fear and agony of knowing what is to happen to you?
“We don’t know how much Mary knew of her future and that of Jesus.
“But Jesus certainly knew what would happen to Him. Every detail from the moment of His arrest to His death. Peter’s denial, Judas’ betrayal, His disciples fleeing in fear. The agony of His torture and Crucifixion.
“Can you imagine how He must have felt as He grew up, as a teenager and young man, knowing that this day was still to come? The horror of it must have been unbearable.
“Yet He went through with it … just for us!”
They were all silent for a few moments, as they considered the seriousness of what they’d just heard.