9/8, Happy Birthday Blessed Mary

Happy Birthday once again, Blessed Mary.

Another year of your intercession into our often broken yet holy world.  You don’t talk to us much but your influence continues through your simple life.  Thank you for that simple life and please excuse that we don’t have enough candles to honor your birthday this holy day.

Blessed Mary, you lived the dual life that each of us live: shame and joy, joy and shame.  We go back and forth wondering if we’ll ever reach the one but are sure of the other.

You first felt joy, in your pregnancy, with your cousin’s fetus kicking for joy for his new cousin.  Imagine two un-borns showing us all what joy feels like.

You were shamed in your pregnancy and then found joy in the little guy that you and Joseph held together.

You again felt shame when you lost your little guy in the temple.  You returned and found that frisky six year old talking brilliantly among sixty year olds.  The joy returned to your face that day.

You felt shame yet once again when the little guy, now a big guy tells you at a wedding feast that “his time has not yet gone” when you made a simple request to him.  You walked away from him wondering what kind of son you raised.  Then he brought you joy when the first wine was served last and continued to be served.

Shame/Joy…Joy/Shame.  What a life for you and what a life for us.

We don’t hear about you in the Bible for quite awhile until you’re greatest shame/joy are again intermingled.  Your little boy is walking and carrying that awful stick on his shoulder and you had to walk behind him.  He walked and walked until he fell, three times (it’s been said) until he reached his shame and shamed you once again.

Poached on that big stick your little guy, now a big guy, gives you away (as in a marriage) to the one person he trusted the most.  The one he trusted most says, “yes” to him and when he asks you the same question, you say “yes” to him.  Is it now shame or hope?

Is it what we so often dismissily say these days, “it is the way that it is” and throw in our hats recused from further responsibility or is it what could and can be?  Your little guy knew it was hope all along and not despair but I suspect that you felt it also.

Blessed Mary, your little guy died that day and you walked away wondering what to hold on to.  Shame at your son’s behavior?  Despair for what we did to him?  Or is it hope for what can be when the best of us shines forth?

Another Mary finds the empty place where your son was laid but you heard about it quickly.  Blessed Mary, your living between shame, despair and hope suddenly turned to joy.

It’s called the resurrection.  It’s called “joy.”  It means “joy.”

Blessed Mary, we turn to you each moment of each day because you witness for us that shame only holds us down and that joy only lifts us up.  Joy prevails when shame only slowly eats away the goodness within us.

Happy birthday Mary.  And may you have many more.  We all suspected that you “represent”…no…you “show”…no…you are “joy”, you are “hope.”  You are our Mother as much as the little boy on that stick who destroyed shame and restored a joy-filled life.

We believe that you are the joy we want and need in times of doubt, sorrow or lose.  So “Happy Birthday” to you Blessed Mary and “Happy Birthday” to all of us who adopt and make you our joy.

And, all thanks to your little boy.

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About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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