For Catholics, today is Ascension Thursday, a holy day in which we celebrate when Christ returned to his Father in heaven 40 days after Easter. Therefore, this morning, Bernie, Isaac and I headed over to Church to attend the 9 am mass. This is the school mass so David was there as well sitting right next to his eighth grade big buddy. Each school mass is hosted by a particular class - they are in charge of doing the readings, leading the songs, and bringing up the gifts. In addition, they generally do some sort of presentation that relates to the day. Today was the second-graders' turn.
These beautiful seven and eight-year-olds who just recently made their first communion very reverently performed all of their appointed tasks. At the end of mass, they did a wonderful reading with hand motions about the life of Mary, appropriate since this month is dedicated to her. The theme of this tribute was "God has done great things for me and Holy is His Name!" - the words of Mary's magnificat spoken when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Throughout her life she bore witness to those words, as she bore her child far from home, as she hastened to Egypt to flee from Herod, as she raised her child in Nazareth and searched for him in the temple, and as she urged him to begin his public ministry at the wedding at Cana.
When she stood at the cross, the children stated that she almost questioned that which she held most dear, that "God had done great things for her" and she was forced to acknowledge that not only had "God done great things for her," but also that "God had asked great things of her." The pain that she must have had as she stood at the foot of the cross. And yet, three days later, her trust in God was proved as Jesus rose from the cross. The children ended the reading by pointing to all of us and saying that "God has done great things for us and Holy is His Name."
Yes, indeed God has done great things for each of us. I'm inclined to think that like Mary, he asks great things of us as well. Admittedly, our sacrifices will most likely not come close to comparing to those asked of Mary. Sometimes, though, they can feel huge, like God is asking us to carry the world on our shoulders for a while. It can be hard to trust and hard to believe that "God has done great things for me!" It is at those times that we can look to Mary's example and work to keep our trust in God. Even when it is hard. Even when it hurts. Even when it seems like God is missing in action. We can look to the good in our lives, we can look to the very fact that we are alive and say that yes, "God has done great things for me and Holy is His Name!"