Four days ago, the Church celebrated the birthday of Our Blessed Mother. Today we have the option of celebrating her most holy name — that lovely name of Maria, or Marie, or Mary that has been invoked so many millions of times since she herself said, “From now on, all generations will call me blessed.”
When I think of the name of Our Lady, I remember a passage that I like in a book of meditations on Our Lady written in the form of a long poem by Father John W. Lynch and first published in 1941. The author describes the arrival of Our Lady and Saint Joseph in Bethlehem to register for the census. Our Lady was about to give birth. They needed a place to stay but, as Saint Luke tells us, there was no place in the inn. That may have been a blessing in disguise, since the inns of those times were no place to have a baby. They were crowded with humans and animals, noisy, smelly, dirty, and totally lacking in privacy. So, in the poem, the author describes Saint Joseph’s attempts to provide his young wife and her baby-about-to-be-born with some sort of appropriate shelter. But one door after the other is shut in his face. No . . . we have no room . . . sorry. No . . . sorry. No; not here.
The author then says this: “He was guardian. Guardian! Whose task to fear not, but to throw his life about her as a cloak. To be a strength between her and the world’s unsanctities. To fend, and guard and break the fall of harsh rejection. He had need of heartening. And when a door was closed against his search, and emptiness was all he had to bring, she’d known the first of all her ministry. He had not thought refusal was a word remaining in a language that had held her name.” What a gentle, beautiful idea the author expresses: that Saint Joseph finds it hard to believe that the same language than can contain the name of his precious young wife can also contain the words: “No. You can’t stay here.”
Let me also point out that he speaks of “the first of all her ministry.” What does that mean? What was the ministry of Our Lady? It was principally to give her son, her Christ, to the world. And sadly, to find that some in the world do not want him, reject him, and say with their whole lives: No. He can’t stay here. I don’t want him. Even now, as Our Lady prepares to give birth, does the shadow of the cross fall over her young life and that of her baby about to be born. Her ministry will be a glorious one, but also full of sorrow. Only on the first Easter morning will she ever be free from that shadow and eternally joyful because of the eternal joy of her beloved son. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.