and after Mass, I wait for the woman who asked me to help out at a yard sale.
I make my thanksgiving for Communion,
for the gift of the Lord's presence in my heart by the statue of Mary.
And the widow stops to say hello.
Holding out her hands to me, she tells me that I am so beautiful, that God must be pleased with me,
and she wants to keep in touch when I go away...we will exchange addresses soon.
Only later do I realize that what she sees is not what I see,
and I am humbled by her praise,
because God only let her see the beautiful in me--His gift,
though I can often only see the ugly in me--my sins, my weaknesses, my faults, my brokenness.
On that sunny Saturday afternoon, at the yard sale, I see a woman in blue stop and bend over.
She cannot take another step.
I ask, "are you all right ma'am?" but she does not respond.
A tall man catches up with her, and she begs him to let her have a smoke.
We are on school property, a parish school, and he says to her,
"no, Mary. You can't smoke here."
She pleads and pleads, but he will not let her,
so she goes and sits on the curb, alone,
until it is time for them to go.
My heart is breaking, for her, for him, for all who struggle in this world...
"is this what addiction does, Lord?"
And as I look from one to the other, the man notices my worried stare,
my curiosity that I cannot contain, and apologizes to me.
He apologizes, and I can see how much her pain hurts him, though he tries to hide it.
I realize that he has to deal with this every day, and he can do it, but he can't.
And I don't know what to say, what to do, but I pray.
Sweet Jesus, blessed Mary, pray for us and give strength to her, patience to him, grace to all!
Later, I realize that this Mary was obedient, even at the cost of suffering,
and I am sure that our encounter was not an accident or a coincidence.
Blessed Pope John Paul II says, "In the designs of Providence, there are no coincidences."
(Weigel, George. Witness to Hope, p. 440)
Today is the feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
After the name of Jesus, the name of Mary is the holiest, most beautiful name in the history of the world.
This is because Mary is the holiest, most beautiful woman who ever lived.
And we should never be afraid to take her as our Mother, to call on her name for help.
She will not take us to herself alone, but will lead us to her Son, for our salvation and the glory of God.
For Mary knows our joys, but she also shares in our struggles, our weaknesses, our burdens...
more than any other woman, she knows all this.
She was with me and the widow in church, looking with a mother's love on both of us.
She was with me when I realized how unworthy I am of the widow's love, let alone Mary's and God's!
She was with Mary on the curb, helping her to be obedient,
and with the man who cares for Mary, helping him to love patiently.
She watches us all bear our crosses behind our Lord,
intercedes for us with a mother's love,
and will be with us, rejoicing when we rise with Him.