Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend

 "How can this be?" Luke 1: 34

Sometimes a passage jumps out at you. you've read it many times before, but this time, it strikes a chord. In the first chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke, I found this verse interesting, "I investigated accurately everything from the beginning..."

I can imagine this writer amazed at what had occurred and desiring to come to the truth. 
He interviewed many of the disciples and people involved in this
 out of the ordinary series of events. 
If Mary was still alive, he would have interviewed her to verify her story. 
What would he have found?

 A woman still amazed, still in awe at God's goodness? 
In spite of all she had gone through? 
The stigma of her virgin pregnancy, the flight to Egypt, 
knowing hundreds of babies were being slaughtered because of the search for her Son, 
and ultimately the horror of seeing her Son hanging on the cross, 
mutilated, seemingly defeated.

"How can this be?" she asked. How can this be that God chose me? 
How can this be that God would want to make me part of His plan to save humanity? 
How can this be that I would carry the mysteries of the universe in my womb?

 "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord." Luke 7:38
Sometimes, when I've had a difficult day, being a handmaid of the Lord is the last thing on my list. I just want to get through the day without drowning! When I think about Mary, she seems so far removed from the day to day struggles we face. I see a peaceful, calm young girl, praying, helping at home, perhaps picking flowers in the garden or singing to children. My life is not like that.
How do I reach a place where I can say, "I am a handmaid of the Lord" like Mary? Do I quit my job and just spend my days praying and pondering God's Word in the Bible? Is that really what God wants of me?

I look deep into my heart and I know I was "made for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). Just like Esther who saved the Jews from annihilation, just like Martha and Mary, just like Dorcas and Lydia. God put me in this time and place, and amongst a particular people.
To become God's handmaid, His servant, I have to hear God's call. After all, He is my Master. I have to recognize my gifts and resources because they are the clue to what God wants me to do. I don't live in a world of random events, coincidences. God is the Master Architect, and He orders my steps. He will call, and He will equip me. That is where I find my peace.

"Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.." Luke 1:31

Why do Catholics call Mary the Ark of the New Covenant? There are many parallels in Saint Luke's gospel that show us why. Here are just a few.

The Holy Spirit overshadowed and then indwelled the Ark just as the Spirit overshadowed and indwelled Mary. Both Mary and the Ark became the dwelling place of the presence of God. Just as Mary traveled to the house of Elizabeth and stayed there for 3 months, so was the Ark brought to Obed-Edom, only a short distance away from Ein Kerem (Elizabeth's place in the hill country), and remained there for 3 months. John the Baptist, of priestly lineage, while in his mother's womb, leapt at the approach of Mary. So too David, dressed as a priest, leapt and danced before the ark. Inside of the Ark of the Covenant, were the stone tablets of the Law, the manna from the wilderness, and the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood. Inside Mary's womb, was the Word of God made flesh, the Bread of Life, and the actual and eternal High Priest.

Just like Elizabeth, I ask, "Why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord shall come to me?" Just like David, I ask, "How can the Ark of the Covenant come to me?" (2 Samuel 6:9). Indeed He comes, ever new, ever faithful. 
I await Him and He comes. 
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

 "The friendship, companionship, intimate fellowship, of the Lord, 
is with those who fear, revere and respect Him and His covenant..." Psalm 25:14
Saint Teresa of Avila, at one time, fell off her donkey and got hurt. She asked God why this happened as it could not have come at a worst time. He answered her that that was how He treated His friends. She then retorted that that was why He had so few!!! This was not the only time she complained as she was often the butt of gossip and hostility at the convent.
Indeed when we are friends with God, it does not guarantee a life free from suffering and hardship. A friend of mine who had undergone a heart operation a couple of years ago and almost died, now had to have a mastectomy a few days before Christmas because of a fast growing cancer. I know she is God's friend, and she can rightly ask God why!

One bible verse is particularly apt- "Faithful are the wounds of a friend..." Psalm 27:6. I can't help but relate this to grafting. Why does God allow us to get hurt? Perhaps it is the only way we can grow, and bloom and bear fruit. He is the vine and we are the branches. We are supposed to abide in Him, attach ourselves to Him, remain in Him, "No branch can bear fruit by itself." In grafting, the tissues of one plant are inserted into the tissues of another so that the two sets of vascular tissues are joined together. The "vine" contains the desired genes to be duplicated in the branch! But we can't get connected without the wounds on both the vine and the branch!
When God allows pain and suffering to enter our life, we are invited to join with Him. He sees we are strong enough to enter into a closer, covenantal relationship with Him. And He asks us during these times, "Do you still love Me? Do you still trust Me?"


  1. Patsy, the facial features in your art are becoming so distinct and more beautiful each week, The fingers on the hand of the baby ( Jesus or John) are so realistic. We really appreciate that you are posting art with us in this two week challenge at Word Art Wednesday. Advent and Christmas Blessings to you and yours, Carole

  2. Truly wonderful post. I love the words and the paintings. Have a Blessed Christmas.

  3. Powerful art and post. I enjoyed your insights about the Ark of the Covenant in comparison to Mary as also the Ark of the Covenant. I had not heard that before but it makes perfect sense. You said it beautifully when you said that suffering invites us into a deeper connection with God.
    Merry Christmas,


I am so glad you dropped by! You are a blessing!
:^) Patsy