What was it that Mary was pondering in her heart following the visit of the shepherds? (“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Luke 2:19)
Could it have been that the shepherds were confirming what the angel had separately said to her and Joseph, that she was to give birth to a son who was to be the savior of the world? For an angel had told the shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For today in the City of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
How loving and merciful of God to give Mary these several confirmations of her momentous decision to say yes to his plan for her to be the mother of God becoming one of us!
But God providing confirmation of important decisions is not confined to the Holy Family, but is something available to anyone who seeks an ongoing relationship with the Father and asks for guidance in the decisions of life. Confirmations can take various forms – sometimes a word from a friend, sometimes a scripture that pops out at us, and sometimes even an extraordinary event.
Let me share a story involving my mother when I was teenage boy, growing up in Mason City, Iowa. I was born with a deformed sternum bone that was inverted inward and had the effect of crowding my heart and lungs as I grew older. When I was 15, it was determined that it was causing my heart to enlarge with serious consequences on my future health and life expectancy. A thoracic surgeon in Des Moines had developed a procedure where the sternum bone would be cut from the rib cage lifted out and a bone strut placed across the ribs from one side to the other and then the sternum laid back down over the strut with everything wired back together.
Since this was in the 1950’s and the surgery was considered unusually invasive and experimental, my parents agonized over the decision to proceed. After seeking second opinions, deliberating extensively and praying, they decided to go forward with the surgery.
The Sunday before we were to travel to Des Moines for the surgery, my mother was earnestly praying at mass, asking God for some kind of assurance that they were making the right decision. As she was praying, she felt a hand on her shoulder. It was quite distinct. She paused, looked behind her, but there was no one in the pew behind her or anywhere nearby. She knew it was a confirmation of their decision to go ahead with the surgery. Sixty-two years later, I am still here to share the story.
“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”