Franciscan Sister Myra Jean Sweigart reflects on Mary, the Mother of God in the Acts of the Apostles. Sister Myra Jean presented this reflection at a recent event at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Champion, WI. The evening of prayer was sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross and Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. Community members served as leader, reader, ministers of hospitality and music.
In the reading this evening we hear from Acts, “With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.” Where have we heard that word favor before? Upon whom does the favor of the Lord rest, but on Mary his blessed Mother.
One of my favorite authors is Caryll Houselander. Frequently in her writings she refers to Mary; Mary as child called upon to say yes to God, Mary as a mother who raises her son, Mary as a suffering woman, Mary who, with the apostles, meets her risen Son in the upper room, Mary as the favored one.
As we heard in the reading from Acts, it is those who proclaim, who bear witness to the resurrection who are accorded favor. Mary’s whole life leads to the Resurrection. But, Mary, in much of her time on earth, is pre-resurrection. She is of the Jewish belief that there is to be a savior. Caryll Houselander says,
“She was not asked to do anything herself but to let something be done to her. She was not asked to renounce anything but to receive an incredible gift. She was simply to remain in the world, go forward with her marriage to Joseph, to live the life of an artisan’s wife, just what she had planned to do when she had no idea that anything out of the ordinary would ever happen to her.” (Caryll Houselander, The Essential Writings, p. 107)
Because she allowed God to work in the ordinary every day role of housewife and mother, the gift of the humanity of Jesus was given to the world.
God didn’t ask Mary to become something she was not or to live in a way separate from her family or from the people whom she called friends. He used the ordinary pattern of woman’s life in that time to fill Mary with his favor. This God is also our God. This God uses the ordinary to introduce himself to us, to journey with us, to suffer with us and to rise with us.
How do we meet him every day? How do we come to know our God? What practices in our life can lead us to become favored?
The answer to this, as found in Mary’s life, is to live the ordinary. Read more: Shrine – Mary and Acts