Mary is a juggler who reveals the face of God.
After hearing the report of the shepherds who had come to worship her Son, she treasures her experiences and throws them together in her heart. (Luke 2: 19)
The usual translation is that Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. But the Greek συμβαλλειν means to “throw together.” But I think it’s more like juggling – continuing to keep things together while keeping them moving.
Sometimes when I sit down and pray over the Gospel of the day, I find myself throwing together the words of the scripture, the events happening in the world, and my personal feelings.
This morning I find myself contemplating the “face,” the Rostro, of God. God wishes to shine his face upon us – with love (Numbers 6: 22-27).
It is not the face of domination, of power, of violence, of control. It is the face of the vulnerable, the weak, the face of a child – revealed to the outcasts, the shepherds – lying in a feed trough.
When I allow myself to contemplate the face of the poor, the outcast, to listen to them – to accompany them – then I can see the face of God and recognize the presence of the vulnerable God, Jesus, in our midst.
This happened one day this past year.
It was a busy day. In the course of the day our pastor asked me to sit in while he spoke to a couple whose adolescent son had been abused. Later, listening to a woman concerned about her son who seemed to be suffering severe depression, I heard her speak of the abuse she received at home. I felt helpless before such pain, such violence. Later that night, back home, I dropped in to the Holy Hour. Sitting in the back, ignoring all the words, I could only place all that I had heard that day in the hands of a vulnerable God, who had made Himself present to me in the suffering and who was present in the Host – how vulnerable is a piece of bread. God shined his face on me and gave me peace – even though, or maybe because, I felt weak and helpless.
I pray that this year I may recognize the face of God shining on me, offering me peace, and calling me to share these marvels to those I meet.
This will require some juggling.
The photo is a close-up of the Icon of Mary, Virgin of Tenderness, in St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Ames, Iowa, written by Yaroslava Sumach Mills.