The Patience of Mary

In my new book, A Heart Like Mary’s: 31 Daily Meditations, I reflect on many different attributes and desires of Mary’s heart. The reflection which begins the book focuses on the attribute of patience. I can be very impatient at times– whether I’m waiting in a line or following a car driving under the speed limit. I think about patience for myself a lot. Since I wrote that daily reflection to open A Heart Like Mary’s, I’ve had more opportunity to reflect on Mary’s patience, especially moments in her life which demanded it of her. I’d like to share those thoughts, as they invite us during this season of Advent, to be more patient with our world and ourselves.

Waiting for the Messiah

Mary’s patience, I believe, is depicted by the great artists who capture the Annunciation scene. They portray Mary kneeling, reading from a book, signifying to me that Mary was patiently waiting with all of Israel for the coming of the Messiah. Her patience, her waiting, came to fulfillment, as she received word herself that she would be the mother of the Messiah. Her people had to wait no longer. But she did, as she waited for 9 months to give birth to the savior of the world and meet the long expected one. Just as Mary patiently waited in her day and age for Jesus’ coming, as an Advent people, we patiently wait for the unexpected hour in which the Lord will return, or we patiently wait for that time when God will call us to our eternal home.

Patience During Travels

As I alluded earlier, one of the times I can be impatient is when I’m stuck behind a slow car or in my rural Wisconsin assignment, farm equipment on a country road or highway. I have come to realize that Mary traveled a lot, both while she was pregnant and after as well. I’m sure that the situation demanded her to have exercise patience with the mule or donkey, or the slow caravan, or whatever she might have experienced.

Patience with Joseph

Matthew’s gospel tells us that Joseph, not wanting to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Mary had to show patience toward her betrothed, the one whom she loved, hoping and knowing that he would come around. She had to wait. Sometimes in our life, we need to be patient with those we love, our family members, friends, or co-workers. We believe, trust, and hope, that they will come around.

Patience with History

After the birth of Jesus and his presentation in the temple, Mary had to patiently wait to return to Nazareth. She had to be patient with history, since Herod felt threatened by the Christ child and sought to kill all the newborn infants. Mary endured this trial by fleeing into Egypt and waiting for years to return home to Nazareth. Sometimes, like Mary, we need to be patient with whatever our history may be. We might have certain expectations or wants for the present moment, but maybe God is asking us to wait, and if we do so with patience, whatever we expect might come to pass.

Patience with God’s Children 

From her throne in Heaven, Mary exercises patience with all of us, whom Jesus entrusted to her as her very own children. We sometimes go astray, and do not follow the commands of God. We try to do things our way. And as a loving mother Mary patiently waits for us to come to our senses. Mary has spoken in many places to different visionaries and she has imparted messages to them, calling us to conversion and repentance. She patiently waits for us to listen and respond, praying like any good mother would for her children.

Mary, Model of Patience, pray for us.

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Fr. Edward Looney is a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay, a Marian theologian, author, columnist, media personality, podcaster, film enthusiast, and fellow pilgrim. He is the host of the podcast, Hey Everybody! It’s Fr. Edward. You can follow him on social media at the handle @FrEdwardLooney.

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