Joe and I attended a beautiful wedding liturgy on Saturday, at which the Gospel reading was Luke’s nativity story. Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem to be enrolled as ordered by Caesar, and while there Mary gives birth to Jesus. Angels appear to nearby shepherds, inspiring them to go and praise the newborn child. What an unusual selection for a wedding, I thought as the familiar verses were proclaimed, but quickly realized that Joseph and Mary are a married couple, on a journey, coping with difficult circumstances and unknown dangers — the only married couple named in the entire New Testament, in fact. Why not read this story at weddings?
The final line of the passage, “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart,” read with emphasis, became the theme of the homily. The presider encouraged the couple especially and all present to imitate Mary by pondering the events of our own lives, beyond just observing, enjoying or grieving, and try to “see our lives as God sees them.” He noted that the celebratory events in Mary’s life became known as the joyful mysteries of the rosary, likewise the sorrowful and glorious events. Pondering our own life events could lead to such deeper appreciation of their meaning for us. I find this a riveting and refreshing take on Mary and the spiritual life in general.
The bride is a young woman we watched grow up, sitting in the pew in front of us week after week for more than 15 years, and the wedding took place at our parish. Although we’ve attended a number of weddings there since ours in 1991, on this day the ceremony elicited visceral memories of ourselves reciting vows and exchanging rings in that very sanctuary. Tears flowed during “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You,” which was the recessional at our wedding and still a favorite of mine. Singing a Magnificat after communion brought a poetic close to the reflection on Mary begun earlier. Definitely a day to treasure and ponder! (Thank you, Maggie and Jason.)