I confess: I’m not much of a Rosary person, but today I thought I’d try it. A few of us neighbors gather every other week for an hour of prayer. We each volunteer an intention – might be personal or global – and then follow with a decade of the Rosary. Since from last night I still had the beads in my pocket, it seemed that this would be a good place to fasten my thoughts while I took a walk.
It’s Thursday, which I remember to be the day for Joyful Mysteries. The more recent topic of meditation – the “Luminous Mysteries” as introduced by Pope Saint John Paul – is still too new for me to recall, so I kept to the ones I learned as a youngster.
Right off the bat, I had questions. Who were these people and events we’re called to meditate on?
We had two women at the opposite ends of their life. Elizabeth: too old to bear a child and who is already six months pregnant.
Mary, in particular, a mere child by our standards, was faced with a totally unexpected – indeed impossible – pregnancy. Elizabeth’s was the spectacular event; Mary’s was the scandalous one. What would we think if the girl next door, maybe a sophomore or junior in high school, became pregnant? What a disgrace for her family! Would they have it (the child) aborted? Would they have Mary go away for a while (which is actually what Mary did when she went to visit Elizabeth), and then return as though finishing up a vacation or a course of study out of town? I remember a classmate who was absent for quite a while due to an “appendectomy.” Uh-huh.
And what kind of man would stoop to marrying this scandal-laden girl?
No one knew the truth of the situation which had been carefully kept under wraps, but that didn’t stop people from improvising and judging, I’m sure.
Apart from this scandalous history, there was nothing spectacular about this family. If anything, the wonder only grew as this supposed “illegitimate” son grew. Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? What good can come out of Galilee? By what authority do you do these things? We know who our father is.
Surely, if God were actually to send his Son, wouldn’t he have given him a “good” family to come from? A place renowned for its scholars? Surely God would have, should have, seen to it that his Son would have been given a proper education – the equivalent, say, of Harvard or Yale where he’d have studied Scripture with the esteemed Rabbis, the venerated theologians of that day, people equipped to know what God meant when he spoke through the Scriptures. Why pick someone with no pedigree and no credentials? How apt to call these events “mysteries”!
Even before Vatican II, it did occasionally occur to us that ALL are called to holiness, even the unschooled, the unapproved, and even (please, God, forgive us!) the sinful.
There are still some cobwebs in the corners, situations where we feel it’s our bounden duty to get rid of those people so that we can have a religion that’s the rightful owner of all truth and goodness.
Do let’s sweep away the cobwebs, not the people!
It is not the healthy who need a physician, but the unwell.