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Theotokos: Saturday of the 2nd Week of Advent
“and then returned to her home” (Luke 1:56)
As Mary began the nine-day northern trek from Judah back to Nazareth, her pilgrimage was paved with the unknown. Mary was an young pregnant teenager in a Jewish culture silencing such situations by stoning. Mary knew Elizabeth’s reassurance, but she also knew the reality of Mosaic Law and the small-town small-mindedness of Nazareth. Furthermore, it is very likely that Mary was returning to Nazareth with relatives. Certainly they noticed she was “showing,” and in the awkward silence of isolation, fear whispered to Mary as she “returned to her home.”
With uncertainty swarming, Mary adjusted her gaze. Either she could look at the anxiety-laden fear or she could look at God. With her hands caressing her growing womb, Mary remembered who was inside. There she heard — “Do not be afraid” (Luke 1:30); “nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37); “He has looked upon His handmaid’s tapeinosin” (Luke 1:48). Sure, the uncertainty remained even as Mary gazed at God; however, looking at fear through the gaze of God is very different than facing the unknown alone.
Most of us are afraid of the unknown. When fear harasses us we get antsy. Doubt invades our thoughts and gives birth to anxiety. Insecure, we easily begin to dwell in fear.
Mary’s emptiness anchored her gaze. While the quiet journey back home was filled with the fear of the unknown, Mary looked at God—her inner gaze was locked on her Creator. We, like Mary, will face the unknown in life. We like Mary, need not be afraid. We simply need to ask ourselves, “Where are we looking—God or the fear?”
God was there for Mary, every step of the way. God is here for us, He promises. All we need to do is adjust our gaze.
For your prayer
Mary would have often prayed with Psalm 23. Prep your imaginative prayer by slowly reading Psalm 23. Use your spiritual senses and imaginatively pray with Mary in Luke 1:56.
“Father, I beg you to reveal to me the lies inside my fear of the unknown. I beg you to clearly reveal the truth about every one of my fears.”
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© Fr. Mark Toups, 2015