During this summer of COVID, I was able to make an Ignatian retreat. Throughout this retreat I felt particularly accompanied by the Holy Family. As I put myself in the sacred scenes of the Annunciation, the Nativity, the flight to Egypt, the trip to Nazareth, and the finding of Jesus in the temple, I quickly realized that there was a lot of “roughing it and hardship” for the Holy Family.
Mary got this wonderful announcement from the Angel Gabriel asking her to be the mother of Jesus saying:
“You will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never come to an end.” Luke 1:31-33
This all sounded so wonderful, and of course it was. However, notice that any news of the hardships to come is not in that glorious invitation.
Mary graciously gave her consent not knowing what was ahead of her. Joseph and Mary quickly learned that the life of being favored as the parents of the son of God did not mean a life of luxury and ease.
During my meditations as I journeyed with the Holy Family, I was struck at the difficulties of her laborious trip to Bethlehem on a donkey, 9 months pregnant, only to find no room for them in the inn; and so her baby was born in a cave.
Then the sudden stressful trip to Egypt because her son’s life was in danger. That was a long and difficult trek with a baby. There was no airplane, bus, or train to jump on.
Following that, the angel appears again to Joseph telling him to journey to Israel since the ones seeking the life of Jesus had died. Then to avoid Herod’s son, they ended up in Nazareth.
Of course, losing Jesus at 12 years old for three days in Jerusalem caused much anxiety and heartache for Joseph and Mary. I’m sure it took them some time to recover from that one.
All this to say that God did not spare this family from hardship.
However as I traveled with them, I saw such a beautiful example of strength, courage, flexibility, and faith in Mary. Watching her struggle gave me the utmost respect for her — even more than I already had. I realized that we have a Mother who suffered (not only at the cross) but throughout her life.
We have a Mother we can relate to who lived through the grit of life. She is there for us and understands our struggles and hardships. Life is not easy, but we have Mary who relates with that through and through. She was a wife and mother and even though she was sinless, it definitely did not shield her from pain and struggle.
Call on Mary’s help and intercession anytime. She is there for you with her understanding and compassionate heart.
God bless you,
Mary Ann / Mother Hen