MEDITATION TIP —St. Mary, Mother of God, January 1, 2023

“Mary kept all these events in her heart and pondered over them.” (Luke 2:19)

 Mary is the Mother of God, but at the same time, she is a human being just like us. Just as we face the inexplicable and unreasonable in our lives, Mary faced the same trials as we do. The words that epitomized Mary’s life were, “Mary kept all these events in her heart and pondered over them.” “These events” refer to the life of Jesus. In the Catholic Church, there is the traditional devotion of the Rosary. The Rosary is not a prayer of praise to Mary, but a prayer of contemplation of the life of Jesus with Mary. If so, we could say that Mary’s life itself was a rosary, as she was always contemplating Jesus.

 One day in the temple, after the old man Simeon blessed the infant, he said to Mary, “See, this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and as a sign to receive opposition — you yourself will have your heart pierced by a sword — that the thoughts that are in the hearts of many may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35). Mary must have been pondering these words. Eventually, these words became reality with the death of Jesus on the cross. But Mary’s true tenderness, which shines eternally, was born out of this great sorrow and trial, rather than innate.

 A man, who was predeceased by his beloved wife and children, expressed Mary’s feelings in these words. “I have shed many tears for each of my loved ones I have lost. It is hard on those who are left behind. But the more tears I shed, the closer I got to heaven. Every time I have lost one of my loved ones, heaven has come closer. This is the privilege of those who have lost many loved ones. The more tears I shed, the easier it is to face my own death. Heaven is very close to me now.”

 There are people who become kinder through hardship, and there are people whose humanity is distorted by the same hardship. Even the same hardship can change the way we live, depending on how we face it. It is up to us to choose whether to live a life of lifelong complaint, placing the responsibility for hardship on others, or whether to find meaning in hardship, develop love, gratitude, and compassion from it, and live a mature life.

 I myself have come into contact with many people and have been deeply impressed by them. I have noticed that people who can smile softly and kindly have actually experienced many trials and losses. Such people have never regretted their past sufferings, but have found meaning and value in them. At the same time, such people also know the art of ending their life’s journey with a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction.

 In the song “Okuru Kotoba” by Kaientai, there is a line that goes as follows:

 ♪ “It is better to cry until one’s tears dry up than to hold back one’s grief and smile. The more sorrow one feels, the kinder one can be to others.”♪

      (Father Akabae)