Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the LORD; wherever it pleases him, he directs it.
Today's gospel invites us again to ponder the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus describes her and his family as "those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
The first proverb in today's reading speaks of Mary's manner before the Lord. In a broad, flat land rivers meander haphazardly. Continually moving silt they build it up in one place and then wash around it to another place. They form "oxbows" of looping curves that periodically jump their banks.
Mark Twain, remarking on the oxbows of the Mississippi River, joked that, if it kept shortening its course by jumping its banks, the trip from Saint Paul to New Orleans might soon be no more than fifty miles. A map of the Mississippi/Louisiana border, or a air flight over the region reveals innumerable bends and oxbow lakes.
The Proverbialist imagined the good king's heart as pliant in God's hand, like the meandering river. The Hebrew author could not imagine anything happening that God did not intend. He had no truck with fate, luck or karma. If it happened, God intended it, even the wanderings of a river that ebbs and floods from time to time.
We see that obedient, pliant spirit in Mary. We meet her first as she responds readily to the Angel Gabriel's message. "I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me as you have said!" At Gabriel's suggestion she hurries up to Jerusalem to visit her relative Elizabeth and be with her to witness the birth of John the Baptist. Prompted by a generous spirit she immediately speaks to Jesus during the wedding feast of Cana, "They have no wine!" She must follow the spirit that leads her to Calvary on that terrible day of Jesus' death. Finally, she will pray with the disciples as they wait for the Holy Spirit of Pentecost.
Always Mary's heart is directed by the Lord.
Throughout the warmer months there is a colony of ducks here at Mount Saint Francis on our lake. I like to watch a pair of drake and hen fly together. Neither seems to be leading the way. With their wide-set eyes they watch one another; moving together without hesitation or argument they select a spot to land and alight gracefully.
That's why we can pray to Mary. Whatever she wants is what the Lord wants; and she wants only what the Lord wants. They obey one another in that meek spirit typical of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If the initiative comes from the Father, you would not know it by the ready obedience of Jesus' first disciple; her obedience is immediate. We pray to receive a measure of her spirit in our daily activities.