There she is, hardly a moment after getting the news that she is pregnant, miraculously, and, at that, pregnant with the Son of God who is going to save the world, this girl of about age 16 decides to head out on her own to travel about 90 miles on a dangerous journey. Makes sense, doesn’t it? No, it does not. She should be taking it easy and have a stress free environment and someone – like maybe her husband Joseph, hello??? – should be around her at *all* times. She should go directly to the doctor and get the best medical attention .. Or better, a doctor should be regularly coming to her house. You should probably throw in a few security guards and some special home cooking. So… why is she putting everything, our salavation too, at such risk? Why does she head out so dangerously when she’s carrying God inside her womb?
Well, first let’s talk a moment about the human heart. There is something about our hearts, about how we tick. It’s this: whatever we carry in our hearts, that’s what carries us in life.
We have different levels in our hearts, from the more superficial to the most intimate, a place deep inside of us where God can live. And we carry things in our hearts because they carry us in our life. My first car was a 1984 Chevy Monte Carlo. It was maroon and big, and I loved it, not only because it only cost me $300 and moved like small aircraft carrier and spit burned oil out the tailpipe at people who tailgated me, but because it carried me around and it took me back and forth to school for me to be able to finish my master’s degree in college. I have a little musical instrument called a charango. It is a cousin of the ukelele. I like to take it places and carry it in my arms and play it. It’s not because it gets me attention. It’s because it has carried me in my solitude so many times late at night when I’m alone in Ecuador.
Now all of that is great, and we have a lot of things that carry us in life. Money carries us through life, so we like money. Friends and family carry us through life, and we carry them inside of us. Work, sports, … well, you get the point.
Only God can carry us through death.
See, that’s why Mary can go alone as a young girl on a dangerous, life-threatening journey, carrying God inside of her.
God is carrying her.
And He can carry her through everything.
This last time I was in Ecuador, one of the local men who was a founder of the neighboring village in the mountains got cancer in his foot. The doctors told him that the only option for him to survive would be to amputate the foot.
He said no.
He moved down from the mountain, and his wife and youngest daughter began to take care of him. I was able to visit him and bring my charango and try to learn some music from him. He would light up and we’d get his guitar off the wall, and he’d get going again playing. Not only was he the founder of the community, but he was a great guitar player, too. When he was a younger man, he would play at the annual fiestas all night, playing over 200 songs from pure memory without repeating a single one. And now, almost no one in the community plays instruments, and we had the idea of bringing some kids to his house to learn guitar and these songs.
But only a few months later, his condition worsened and he couldn’t play anymore. The cancer spread fast, and by the time he could put his trust in God, it was too late to amputate the foot. He passed away on Easter Sunday morning.
At the funeral, there was no music. No one talked about his life. His wife felt lost and abandoned, the adult children didn’t know what to say. A weight hung over the family.
He left his family, the music, his community – for his right foot. His foot had carried him his whole life.
But, it couldn’t carry him through death.
The church puts the feast of the Assumption as a “holy day of obligation”, because it puts in front of us the event of Mary literally being carried by God through death itself into heaven. We have a day dedicated to the reality that if we have God in our hearts, if we let him into the deepest parts, then He will carry us through everything.
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah. (LK 1:39)