Most of our artistic images of Mary show her as a serene and peaceful young woman, prayerful and holy as she focuses on Jesus. Mary is certainly a model of holiness and prayer, but I wonder how serene and peaceful she felt after giving birth in a stable and being visited by a strange group of shepherds, who were not known to be the cleanest people of the time.  Even 2000 years ago, this was likely not the norm for a new mother.

After hearing what the shepherds had to say, she didn’t simply dismiss the words as something she didn’t understand or didn’t believe.  Instead she “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”  What a lesson that can be for all of us.  When faced with a message that is unusual, not what we expect, or even something we disagree with, are we able to take the words and ponder them, rather than dismissing them out of hand?  If we treasured the words and thoughts of others, perhaps we would find some of the peace and joy we see in images of Mary.

 —Lauren Gaffey is the Charis Ministries Program Director for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and coordinates Jesuit Connections in Chicago for the Midwest Jesuits.                                                                                                                    









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