And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Luke 2: 16-19
We all know that caring for our heart by eating a healthy diet, maintaining regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, and managing our stress levels prevents heart disease. But how often do we link spirituality to a heart-healthy lifestyle? We might all take a cue from Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the way she handled the profound events in her life. According to the Gospel of Saint Luke, “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
A dictionary definition of “ponder” means to think about something carefully, to weigh it in the mind. Mary takes it further by pondering in her heart. She contemplates the mysteries of God wholistically. As a human being, Mary must have struggled to understand the divine plan and her role in it. By listening, by reflecting, by studying, she grew in humility, acceptance, and wisdom. She was able to respond rather than simply react to the situations placed before her. Couldn’t we all benefit by being less hasty, less busy, and less materially-committed in our own lives?
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But our wired world of internet, cell phones, and instant messaging makes it difficult to ponder. Silence just simply doesn’t seem to be available. Taking a leave of absence from the noise and chaos of our world – even if only for a few moments – is something we must make time for if we truly desire to be heart-healthy. We must, like Elijah, listen for the “still, small voice” of God. (1 Kings 20: 12) This is what churches and synagogues and mosques offer us: a place where we can come to ponder in our hearts. Assisted sometimes by lovely architecture, or great art, or beautiful music, or meaningful rituals – but often simply by providing a space for silence. A space where we don’t have to be entertained or entertaining…we can simply be.
For Mary, her pondering led her to understand her Son. May our pondering do likewise.
St. Francis de Sales Parish Catholic Church
40 Granville St.
Newark, Ohio 43055