I served as editor on Loyola Press’s recent release: The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis. Some of my favorite material in that book is what the pope says about Mary. Today, we read about Mary’s courage to make decisions.
Mary did not live “with haste,” with breathlessness, but, as St. Luke emphasizes, she “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (see Luke 2:19, 51). Moreover, at the crucial moment of the angel’s annunciation, she also asks, “How shall this be?” (Luke 1:34). Yet she does not stop at the moment of reflection either. She goes a step further: she decides. She does not live in haste but “goes with haste” only when necessary. Mary does not let herself be dragged along by events; she does not avoid the effort of making a decision. And this happens both in the fundamental decision that was to change her life—“I am the handmaid of the Lord . . .” (see Luke 1:38)—and in her daily decisions, routine but also full of meaning. The episode of the wedding of Cana springs to my mind (see John 2:1–11): here too one sees the realism, humanity, and practicality of Mary, who is attentive to events, to problems. She sees and understands the difficulty of the young married couple at whose wedding feast the wine runs out; she thinks about it; she knows that Jesus can do something and decides to address her Son so that he may intervene: “they have no more wine” (John 2:3). She decides.
It is difficult in life to make decisions. We often tend to put them off, to let others decide instead; we frequently prefer to let ourselves be dragged along by events, to follow the current fashion. At times we know what we ought to do, but we do not have the courage to do it, or it seems to us too difficult because it means swimming against the tide. In the Annunciation, in the Visitation, and at the wedding of Cana, Mary goes against the tide. Mary goes against the tide; she listens to God, she reflects and seeks to understand reality, and she decides to entrust herself totally to God. Although she is with child, she decides to visit her elderly relative, and [years later] she decides to entrust herself to her Son with insistence so as to preserve the joy of the wedding feast. (The Church of Mercy, 134)
- How can we, like Mary, grow more “attentive to events”?
- Some would say that Mary was being a pushy mother when she urged Jesus to solve the wine problem at the wedding feast. How do you view this situation?