I have always loved praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, and love them even more as we approach Christmas. The story of Christmas has always struck me as so gentle and cozy... but this year my attitude towards this feast is changing. As the beads of my Rosary pass through my hand each morning, and as I meditate on walking through the Joyful Mysteries by Mary's side, I am realizing that it wasn't actually a comfy time at all.
At the Annunciation, a poor Jewish girl was minding her own business, going about her small life, when suddenly everything was drawn into question and her world was turned upside down. The Angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her she would bear God's son, and right as she gave history's greatest "Yes," her Fiat, the Angel disappeared. There wouldn't have been any proof right away that what she'd seen had been true. Her day went on as usual. Maybe she was crazy, had hallucinated. The only thing she had to hold on to was the promise that her cousin, Elizabeth, was also pregnant, despite her older age. Mary resolved to visit her, but couldn't explain to her parents or her friends why she had to run off to the hill country so suddenly. She must have felt so lonely, so confused.
Then she arrived at Elizabeth's and saw that she was in fact pregnant. The Visitation. Elizabeth confirmed that Mary was not crazy. So, if what the angel said was true, then Mary was pregnant, and with no husband. This was extremely dangerous- she could be stoned to death for adultery. No one would believe that she had not committed this sin- how could they? Mary could hardly believe it herself. It didn't make sense. It didn't match up with what people thought they knew to be true. She stayed with Elizabeth until her cousin gave birth, and then went back to Nazareth, visibly pregnant. What would Joseph say?
Joseph was not into it. He wanted to break off the engagement, until an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him to keep Mary as his wife. She wasn't lying. Did Joseph question his own sanity at this point? Probably. But he trusted. Then they received word that they had to go off to Bethlehem for a census- Mary, an eight-month-pregant woman, riding on a donkey. Joseph, crazily trusting a vision in a dream. Neither quite sure what was going to happen. Their entire lives had changed, their perfect plan to get married and live in a little house had been turned on its head- everything that they thought was certain was suddenly out of control.
At the Nativity, they find themselves in a cave, Mary in labour. They had been turned away from every inn- was this because everyone was full for the census, or was it because everyone believed Mary's child was illegitimate and wanted nothing to do with them? How humbling, to be lying next to barn animals. But Mary had her child there, lying on the straw, the ground hard. Wildly uncomfortable.
At the Presentation, when the young parents presented their child to the temple to be circumcised, would the priests even accept their son, if they believed him to be illegitimate? Then this old man comes up to them and holds the child, praising the Lord for allowing him to hold the Saviour, and telling Mary she would have a spear driven through her heart. What had she gotten herself into? Her life was in God's hands now. All she could do was surrender.
The final Joyful Mystery, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, features these young parents who have lost their kid. We've lost the Christ Child!!!!!!! How were they going to explain this one? Imagine how freaked out they must have been. But they found him teaching the teachers at the temple. What a weird kid. But he was theirs.
When I was talking to one of my friends recently, she said something that has stuck with me- Uncomfortable is the new normal. We are not made for comfort, in fact, if we are comfortable, we may have stagnated. God made us for more- he made us for his perfect will, for growth, for perfection and salvation.
So, when things start to hurt as you seek out God's will, meditate on the journey of Mary and Joseph, and lean into the hard. The Mother of God knows what you are going through- her life has been in an upheaval as well. Pray, Mary, Mother of God, be a mother to me now. Mother Teresa claims that this short prayer has never failed her.
And as you seek out God's will, know that you are not alone! And God will not abandon you, just as he never abandoned Mary or Joseph. He knows what He is doing. #Trust.