changing roles

Today’s Gospel reading is from Luke, Chapter 2, verses 41-51.  It is the story of Jesus remaining behind in the temple and his parents search for him when they thought he was lost.  The part that struck me today is:

“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.

When reading this story time after time, I have often wondered what exactly Mary kept in her heart.  Was it memories of how her son scared her and she thought she had lost him?  Was it his actual statement about needing to be in His Father’s house?  What exactly did Mary ‘keep in her heart’?

As a mother, I know I have kept many things in my heart.  Memories of special moments like first steps, actual birth stories, first day in kindergarten, and so many more.  But, I have also found myself keeping other not so good memories.  Times of misbehavior.  Times of physical hurts/illness.  Times of the revelations of my own imperfections and weaknesses coming through in their actions.  Watching our children grow and become individuals separate from us equals joy and pain.

But, today as we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I am feeling challenged to love my children with a love like Mary’s.  A love that is like Mary’s in that her love for her Son, was also love for her God.  So, that is a challenge to me to love my children as I love my God.  Total, free, faithful and fruitful love.    With all that I am, was and will be.  And why you make ask?  Because we are all created in the image and likeness of God.  My children are all tabernacles of God.  HE is in them.  Even when they are choosing to ignore that part of themselves and not act very well,  He is still there.  Waiting.  Loving.  Forgiving.  Being.

This part is a challenge to me now.  For just as Mary’s role in Jesus’ life changed, my role in the lives of my children change. Sometimes, the changes come daily!  As our children reach adulthood, when do the rules change?  When and in what situations do we stop being the director and become the counselor and then eventually, just the ear to listen, eye to watch over, and soul to pray?  When our children are grown, finished with school and it is time to fly from the nest, when exactly do you push them out?  How do you push them out so that they know that they are always welcome in your heart and in your life, but that they need to not be dependent on you?  Is pushing them out still being loving in that total, free, faithful and fruitful love that Mary’s Immaculate Heart demonstrates?  Or is letting them stay actually doing the exact opposite and enabling them to not grow into the person God has meant them to be?

Novena Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of MaryO Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially …(special intention).

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever.


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