Although I write this column before Christmas, you won’t be seeing it until after New Years. (You have to love holiday printing schedules for bulletin companies….) So it is Christmas-eve eve, and I finally started to listen to Christmas carols on Pandora. (FYI – Pandora is an internet radio ‘station’ that plays songs in the same genre and tenor of the songs that you “like” and that you “create” the station with.) I was ready to hear the carols of Christmas but not the schlock of Christmas. Fortunately, this particular ‘Station’ does a good job of keeping the trite music out.
In the middle of my musings (and, I confess, more than a bit of writer’s block) they played a wonderful version of the Hail Mary by Corrinne May. It dawned on me that here is the scriptural figure who spans that gap between the writing and the publishing – between Christmas and Epiphany.
Mary the pondering one…
Mary, who “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart,” as Luke tells us. I believe her example in doing this can be fruitful for us as we strive to find our way through another year in the turning of this world. What does it say to our eyes of faith, to live in a world of Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary? How are we to respond to the seeming intractableness of both parties that govern our nation? What do we tell our children and our children’s children about the sub-standard public education system in our neighborhood? So many problems and issues that are not subject to a quick fix, that require a measured response on the part of the believer and non-believer alike.
Certainly Mary is an example for that interior reflection that is needed for individuals. But her Magnificat, her song of praise at the Visitation with Elizabeth, challenges the very structure and order of society. It is easy to read that as a kind of pious, ‘isn’t God great’ prayer on the lips of this woman. In the hands of Luke the Evangelist, it becomes a kind of manifesto, where those who are on the underside of life – the poor, the meek, the hungry know the strength of God’s outstretched arm. And those who hold power – the mighty on their thrones, the rich and the proud – are sent away empty.
These are responses that take more than interior prayer. Rather, they are the fruit of taking that prayer into the political arena and the public square. This is what it means to be the pondering one. As we celebrate this first Sunday in the new calendar year, providentially the feast of Epiphany, do a little pondering with Mary – how is God inviting me to help manifest his kingdom in our world?