What Was Mary Waiting For?
Longing, Waiting, Wondering, Trusting
“Whatcha waiting for?” These were words I first heard in my youth… and many times since then. Do you remember hearing those words … and using them to get someone moving?
“What are you waiting for” can also reveal a deep and powerful longing.
- for the birth of a child, your own or your grandchild?
- for a visa to come to the US? a green card? a job?
What was Mary waiting for?
Mary was an ordinary early teenager of about 13 who had no idea about what was going to happen to her… and what it would cost her!
Hers is the story of
- Longing – she and her people were longing for someone who will lead them out of bondage, a new Moses, a Savi
- Shock – I am to be this Savior’s mother
- Questions – How can this be?
- Trust –“Be it done unto me according to your word”
- Joy – God is fulfilling his Promise to her people to overthrow the oppressors and rule forever.
- Sharing – her good news … and being herself good news
What we so often miss – She had a lifetime of growing in wisdom age with so much “she pondered all these things in her heart”
It is a story about a process of moving from How can this be? to Let it be!
How did this ordinary teenager understand the longing of her people?
Joachim and Anne had taught her to pray from the longing all the oppressed Jewish people had. They longed for a Savior! A king who would turn the tables on their oppressor and rescue them.
But they never expected their longing to be fulfilled the way Jesus did!
- They never thought their Savior would begin in a stable and end on a cross.
- They never thought that his kingdom was not like that of the kingdoms of the world they knew with some being on top and some being oppressed.
- They never thought of a kingdom where all would not only be equal but each would be servants of the other.
So, blessed as Mary was, I wonder whether when, as she sang her Magnificat, she really understood from the beginning what kind of leader or king Jesus would be?
Let’s listen to her questions as a mother, even it was as the mother of her Savior… At each stage of her life she probably asked ”How can this be?”
Imagine her questions as a mother… and how she kept all these things in her heart.
- How did she make sense of giving birth in a stable using a feeding trough as a crib, as today poor refugees use cardboard boxes and other homemade artifacts as makeshift beds for newborn infants?
- When she was escaping her homeland fleeing to Egypt?
- When she found Jesus in the temple after a frantic search for him, she pointed out “Your father and were searching for you.”
- How did she make sense of being entrusted with the ordinary trials of raising a young boy? (Yes, Jesus was once a young boy who had to grow… in wisdom, age and grace!)
- Her mother’s heart may have been bursting with pride that he was drawing people to follow him as he preached the good news of the kingdom to her friends and neighbors.
- Did she sense there was something wrong on Palm Sunday when they proclaimed Jesus as their kind of leader?
- Her mother’s heart broke as she watched him plotted against by the church of her day, unjustly accused, beaten mercilessly by the oppressors he was to save them from … and nailed to a cross?
- What did she feel when she saw a confused bunch of men hiding in an upper room while trying to make sense of their disappointment?
She still longed, but she also questioned … and yet believed and trusted!
For me the big question is… What did she know about Jesus as her King and Ruler… And when did she finally understand it?
He had turned out to be a King Unlike Any Other King (Luke 23:26-49)
Jesus’ kingship is often misunderstood.
- His disciples thought of him as a king.
- The crowds tried to make him a king as they understood it.
- Pilate mockingly asked, “Are you a king?”
To understand Christ the King we must remember what he did at his last meal. He washed the feet of disciples, something a lowly servant did for his master. Then he pointedly asked them, “Do you understand what I have done? I, your Lord and Master (King?), have washed your feet. I want you to wash one another’s feet in love.” He even added, “Do this in memory of me!”
Only in the days after Pentecost would they begin to realize what he meant by “Do this in memory of me.” His kingship is not about getting but of giving. It is not about being served but of serving. “I come not to be served but to serve.” It is about loving… even unto death on a cross no less.
He turned everything upside down! He is a servant king!
When did she finally understand? Most likely it was only at her assumption into heaven that she finally understood.
Is it any surprise that we are still, 2000 years later, getting over our shock at a servant king?
What are you waiting for?
Mary’s journey sounds a lot like our journey – longing, questioning, believing.
There is so much for us to ponder in our hearts about our experience, or our lack of experience, of God.
- If only I had lived at the time of Jesus, I would have recognized him!
- He would will make everything right for me!
- If only God’s kingdom would come now!
We say yes in theory but we struggle tounderstand the cost of being foot-washing disciples of a Servant King
Mary showed us the way of watching, waiting, trying to make sense of our lives … and trusting and willing.
No wonder the Popes refer to her as “the first and model disciple.”