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What Mary Has to Teach Us

Recently the administration of our Franciscan Province has initiated a “virtual wake service” for our deceased friars, where we friars can offer a reflection on the deceased friar’s life. This is what I wrote for Br. Vianney Justin…

I always found Vianney to be one of those special friars that you meet in this life.  In a world that has become so complex and filled with so many challenges Vianney’s approach to our life was an example to me of what, at its core, our Franciscan life should be about.  We have our Chapters, and planning meetings and strategic plans, and there was Vianney reminding us by his life of what it really means to be a follower of the Poverello.

He had simplicity, a purity, a poverty of life that made me think at times of what the original follows of Francis must have been like.  When you met Vianney he would greet you with a warm hello, in a gentle voice, with a fantastic smile.

His ministry was of service to his friar brothers and to those outside the fraternity, and he did it so well.  May he rest in God’s loving hands.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Nativity of Mary.  An author reflecting on the life of Mary said this about this great woman…

The story of Mary is a story about the power of the “small,” the hidden, the powerless: simple, ordinary, unremarkable people who possess the remarkable faith to bring God into the world.

Her story is about a village in a time and place far away from the centers of power where the light of God’s Christ first dawn.

Her story is about a peasant teenage bride and her laborer husband who manage to make a loving home for God’s own.

Her story is about working shepherds and outsiders possessing the openness of heart to realize God in their midst.

Her story is about Emmanuel – “God with us” in the midst of doubt, misunderstanding, cruelty and avarice.

The story of Mary is the story of the special place in history that the humble people have.  It is the reminder that God is with us in the ordinary of life, in the everyday challenges of life, the downs as well as the ups, the simple moments as well as the complex moments and peak experiences.

Brother Vianney was indeed a great example of the discipleship that the Mother of God, the first disciple, taught us.

Mary taught us that it is not about being great theologians, great Scripture scholars, great experts in Church History and doctrine.  It is rather about allowing God to touch our lives, saying yes to God’s call, and using our gifts as simple as they may be to live and teach the compassion and mercy of Jesus.

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