Storing All these Things in Her Heart


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December 26  

I don’t believe that there is a single mother in the world who hasn’t lost sight of one of her children. Whether it was a brief moment in a clothing store or several minutes in a crowded mall, all moms have experienced that deep moment of fear. So, in the second chapter of Luke, when we encounter the Holy Family searching for Jesus in the crowded streets of Jerusalem (for three days!), I imagine that all our mothering hearts skip a beat, as we fully understand the fear that Mary and Joseph experienced during that time. I am also certain that we all understand Mary’s reaction once she finds Jesus: happy to have found her son, but slightly annoyed that he had taken off without telling them where he was going. It is the end of Luke’s re-telling of the tale, however, that sets my heart ablaze. According to Luke, as the Holy Family returns home to Nazareth, instead of placing this experience behind her, Mary leaves Jerusalem and continues to live her ordinary life at home, all the while “storing all of these things in her heart.”

Storing all of these things in her heart.

Luke’s words seem to hold two meanings that we all have encountered from time to time. First, how often have we encountered the sacred through the eyes of our children and placed them in our hearts? Whether it be a simple squeeze of a hand during dinner-time prayer, or one of our children outwardly exploring who Christ is, we cherish these moments much in the same way Mary cherished seeing her son share God with others. We place them carefully in our hearts so that we might retrieve them whenever we need to be reassured in our work as domestic church caretakers. We retrieve them especially in moments of doubt—those moments when we cannot see our children making deep connections to God in the ways that our hearts yearn for.

The other meaning for us is watching how Mary lives. She places these encounters with Jesus in her heart, and we are directed to do the same—rejecting the ease of letting these encounters remain outside of us, but rather bringing them into our being—into full communion with the work of our motherhood. When we do this, our mothering is transformed into joy and praise to God for the gifts he provides our families. It is when we place Jesus upon our hearts that we, too, can find the best ways of fully devoting our households to the Lord. In the words of Colossians 3:12-21: in both “deed and word” and doing “everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,” we will be more and more like the Holy Family who has been revealed to us.

Storing all of these things in her heart.

May the Feast of the Holy Family inspire us all to do the same.

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