Today’s Gospel story is a fitting one, I think, for this celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The evangelist tells us that Mary’s heart was filled with wonder. There are a few stories in the Gospels that end with that wonderful line: “and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” I think the moms here can understand the sentiment of these lines. I think any mother is amazed at the things their children learn to do, but Mary’s wonderment goes beyond even that: she is amazed at the coming of age of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. She knew her child would be special, and when you read these stories you can just imagine how astounded she is at times. Her heart was filled with wonder.
At other places in the Gospel, I imagine her heart is filled with fear. She began to see, I am sure, that the wonderful things her son was doing were not universally appreciated. She must have known that the authorities were displeased and were plotting against him. She probably worried that he would be in danger, which of course he was. Her heart was filled with fear.
Toward the end of the Gospel, her heart is certainly filled with sorrow. As she stood at the foot of the cross, her son, the love of her life, is put to death. The Stabat Mater hymn calls that well to mind: “At the cross her station keeping, stood the mournful mother weeping, close to Jesus at the last.” The prophet Simeon had foretold her sorrow when she and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple. Her heart was filled with sorrow.
At the end of the Gospel, her heart must have been filled with joy. Jesus’ death was not the end of the story. Not only did his life not end at the grave, now the power of the grave is smashed to oblivion by the power of the resurrection. In those first hours after his resurrection, she shared the joy of the other women and the disciples. Her heart was filled with joy.
And as the community went forward in the book of Acts to preach the Good News and to make the Gospel known to every corner of the world, Mary’s heart was filled with love. That love that she had for her son, that love that she received from God, she now shared as the first of the disciples. Her place in the community was an honored one, but one that she took up with great passion. Her heart was filled with love.
For us, perhaps, the best news is that, through it all, her heart was always filled with faith. That faith allowed her to respond to God’s call through the angel Gabriel with fiat: “let it be done to me according to your word.” Because of Mary’s faith, the unfolding of God’s plan for the salvation of every person came to fruition. We are here to some extent because of her faith, that faith that allowed her to experience the wonder, sustained her through fear and sorrow, and brought life to the joy and love she experienced. She kept all these things in her heart, that heart that was always filled with faith.