Over the years, one of the phrases regarding Mary that stood out for me was, “She treasured these things in her heart.” It comes up a couple of times in Luke’s Gospel (different translations have slightly different wording—the NAB now has “kept”) as events unfold in Jesus’ life. This phrase became more meaningful to me when I had children of my own, and began to treasure various moments of their unfolding lives in my heart. It made me reflect on Mary’s motherhood; that phrase coming back to me each time I made a mental note to file this new event away in my memory.
I also noticed that I had developed a habit of routinely filing away negative memories about certain people—exclusively negative ones as if I were amassing evidence in a case against them. I found that I had been treasuring hurts and resentments. Just like the charming memories of my children, I kept them, took them out periodically to look over, polish up and display them to anyone who would listen as if they were treasures—and they sort of were—because I valued them so highly as justification of my prejudices, my actions, my coldness. And they have the same effect—as my fond memories endear my children to me even more, the negative ones would add fuel to my hatred of the others. They had become almost as precious to me as the good memories that I had kept.
Jesus said that “where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Mt 6:21) Every day, we have the opportunity to choose our treasure—to fill our hearts with good things that make us more loving, or that twist and corrupt our hearts, making us less available and less open to others.
It’s not to say we should never reflect on our hurts; that would be irresponsible. But, healthy reflection is considering why I felt the way I did, how I responded to the hurt and how I would like to proceed in the future; not to hold on to it, and bring it out periodically to re-feel the feelings.
By treasuring the hurtful events, we can fall into the trap of believing that our instant replay is a sort of punishment against the offender, and our re-offence is a sort of revenge. It only hurts me to hang on to it, and it turns my heart into a dragon-hoard of cursed treasure that turns the owner into a mangle-hearted beast who thrives on isolation.
When deciding what to file away, perhaps we should take Mary as our model—treasure what is life-giving, honor what is good and orient our hearts toward the treasure that is her Son.