We all have heard the term “Drama Queen” to describe a person who overreacts to circumstances or events that adversely affect her (or him). Well I know someone who is not a “Drama Queen” but she is the ultimate “Queen of Drama”. She is our very own Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God. I know you are saying HUHHH?? Let me explain. Have you ever thought about the Five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary? Well I have, and while I was contemplating these events in Mary’s life a few weeks ago, it dawned on me how dramatic each of these events actually was. That there is no Great Joy without drama and pain.
The First Joyful Mystery:
A teenage girl who is to be married. She has never been with her fiancee (in the Biblical sense) nor with any man. She is a virgin. But suddenly because she has a mystical experience, she joyfully announces to her mother St. Anne “I’m going to have a baby. A being who was shining like the sun told me this.” Her joy cannot be contained, nor can the news that wells up inside her. Now this is not a 21st century crisis, where the family gets in a tizzy, but soon rallies around the young expectant mother. In this culture Mary could very well be stoned to death; subject to the Death Penalty because she lost her virginity before marriage.
St. Anne is beside herself. “Mary, you have got to stop saying that. You know it can’t be true.” Wringing her hands she wails, “You’re going to get yourself killed. What will Joseph do if he hears such talk?”
But soon enough it becomes evident that Mary is with child. So Anne and Joachim decide she should go stay with her cousin Elizabeth until they can think of what to do. By now Joseph has heard the story, because Mary in her innocent joyful state won’t keep her mouth shut. He’s threatening to shame Mary and the whole family with a decree of divorce. But at least he’s kind enough not to demand that Mary be stoned.
The Second Joyful Mystery:
Mary is jubilant to be going on a trip to visit her beloved cousin. Elizabeth is holy and full of wisdom born of suffering and she is like a second mother to Mary. Mary also knows that Elizabeth is with child even though her mother does not believe it. “Mary, that is not possible. Elizabeth is much older than I and her womb has been barren for years,” St. Anne responded to Mary’s tale that she claimed came from the Angel, the very same Angel who started this current mess.
At Mary and Elizabeth’s embrace all drama and pain cease. Only joy fills their hearts. The beautiful words they exchange at their meeting are still sung today and the joy that John the Baptist expresses at his first encounter with the Lamb of God, before he ever draws a breath, attest to the sanctity and reality of human life from conception. When Mary returns home she learns that the crazy drama has calmed down. Joseph is going to marry her. He has experienced a visitation of his own and now he believes Mary’s story.
The Third Joyful Mystery:
Well the drama is not over for Mary. Not long after their marriage, she and Joseph find their selves traveling to Bethlehem to obey some Roman decree. She is heavy with child. much closer to her time than her family or Joseph let on. (They had to keep up the pretense to protect Mary’s reputation.) Now she is being jostled on the back of a donkey. After several days of this she is not doing well. Finally she cries out, unable to hold on much longer. She knows Joseph has been stopping at every inn and roadside business asking for a room. Nothing is available. The whole village is full of travelers, coming to town to be counted.
We all know how this story is going to end, but try to imagine it as if you don’t know. A young woman crying out in pain, doubling over, unable to ride one more inch on the donkey. Her husband beside himself with worry, praying silently at each door, “Yahweh, have mercy. Please help us.” Just when he knows Mary cannot go one more step, a kind person leads the two of them into a dark cool shelter where a an ox is resting for the night. A stable for animals. Joseph is grateful. “Can you get a midwife to come down here? My wife is ready to give birth,” he asks to deaf ears. Joseph is more than clueless. This is woman’s business; they give birth and keep all their secrets. He is not supposed to be here. Not allowed to perform such an unclean act. But that is exactly what Yahweh demands of him. To deliver the baby who is to save the world. The King of Kings born in a stable, no ceremony, no team of experts, nothing clean about it. A man who is not qualified or permitted is the first to hold the baby in his work-callused hands. This is the way our God shows us his love. He comes in the lowliest and most undesirable fashion, not a Kingly entrance at all. And Mary crying out in pain now weeping for joy. Nearby shepherds come with their smelly sheep and fall to their knees, speaking of Angelic hosts singing praises of great Joy.
The Fourth Joyful Mystery:
Well this is only the beginning. Forty days after Jesus birth Joseph and Mary travel with their infant son to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices for purification and to dedicate their first born son to Yahweh in the temple of the Most High. A day of celebration and joy. Today it would be like taking your first born to church to have him Baptized, a time of joy and celebration. But wait. Someone approaches you at the church. They say good things, then add “Oh yeah, this son of yours is going to be a source of pain to you.” OK. Now that’s a bummer.
Joseph and Mary had this same experience. Just when all seemed well and joyful, these two people who spend all their days in the temple, Simeon and Anna, approach. They say wonderful things about the baby before them, but then Simeon says “And a sword will pierce your soul.” But Mary, our Queen of Drama, does not let this get her down. She keeps this prophecy in her heart and bears the pain as she goes about the job of raising her son.
Not long after this, when the Holy family had settled in Bethlehem, three wise men come from far away and like the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth, pay homage to Mary’s son, bringing valuable gifts and some troubling news. King Herod, they say, wants to know the where-a-bouts of this infant. The travelers leave and vow they will not speak to Herod about the infant. But soon Joseph and Mary hear that baby boys under 2 years are being murdered by Herod’s soldiers. They are terrified. Does Mary overreact? Is she a Drama Queen or is she Queen of Drama?
Mary, who by now is well versed in drama and prayer, prays like the Psalmist “Oh Lord my God, in you I trust.” That very night Joseph wakes up the family and says “We are leaving tonight. I had a dream and a voice told me to get up and take you and the child and go to Egypt.” Now here is some high drama. Running in the middle of the night; a donkey, a baby, a teenage mom being led in the dark by the worried husband and father. Thank God for the gifts from the travelers, because that’s all the money they have as they enter Egypt where they settle far from any family, alone as refugees in a strange land. Mary trusts God. She knows this cannot be the end. God has a plan. And so the family lives in exile until the Holy Spirit informs Joseph in a dream “Go back to Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead’” Would any of us leave in the middle of the night with nothing but our shoes and shirts based on a dream?
The Fifth Joyful Mystery:
Now the last big drama recorded in Mary’s life before Jesus’ public ministry happens when Jesus is only 12 years old. Let’s try to put ourselves in Mary’s sandals for this one.
Mary, Joseph, Jesus and all their family; cousins, uncles, aunts, babies, grandparents and all extended family – the whole dang Klan – are all traveling together to the Temple in Jerusalem for Passover. They join up with the caravan heading over the dusty road toward the Holy City. The women travel together with the pack animals loaded with food and supplies, the younger children in their care. The men walk briskly ahead, lost in conversation. Jesus along with many of the youth, tag along, trying to stay in the company of the Patriarchs. This is how they learn their future roles as Jewish men in a homeland occupied by enemy Roman soldiers.
The festivities at the Temple and in the great city fly by and soon, Mary is trekking with the women and their traveling kitchen, over the same road, back toward Nazareth. Evening comes and camp is set, food prepared. Mary expects Jesus to appear any minute. He loves to eat. But soon it is clear he is not in the company of Joseph or the other boys who are settling down for their meal. Mary is perturbed.
Mary: “Joseph, where is Jesus?”
Joseph: “I don’t know. I thought he was traveling with you.”
Mary: “I have not seen him since we left Jerusalem. I assumed he was with you or running with the other boys. Have you seen him at all?”
Joseph: “No. I told you he did not leave with us.”
Well it doesn’t take long for the two to realize that they have misplaced the Messiah and they have to travel back the way they came to see if they can locate him along the road or back in Jerusalem. They ask everyone the same question: “Have you seen a 12 year old boy, dark hair and eyes?” (That describes about 99% of all youth in Palestine.) “No” is the only reply they get . Both parents are in a panic. High drama, for sure. Mary and Joseph experience fear and anxiety, the opposite of trust. Is Jesus dead? Was he kidnapped to be sold as a slave in Rome? Or maybe he’s just lost, wandering around the great city?
Mary lost her son for three days. Three days of not knowing. Three days of dread and fear. A prophetic number pointing to a time 21 years in her future, when she will lose her son to death for three days. How can you trust and be calm at such a time? The answer is, you can’t. It is not possible to NOT be engulfed in fear. So when Mary and Joseph finally see Jesus in the temple shooting the breeze with some older dudes, their first reaction is not anger, but relief. “He’s alive! He’s ok!” Then joy. Rejoicing, hugging, kissing, and tears.
And lastly consternation. “Why did you do this to us?” Mary asks her son. After all Jesus is not a toddler who wandered off. He is old enough to know better. Jesus’s answer is not OK. She knows it should be, after all this son of hers is not your average adolescent. But his explanation about “His father’s business,” does not refer to Joseph and Mary knows this is all the explanation she is going to get.
So after the joy, I’m sure there was some more drama in the Holy Family as they traveled home. The Bible tells us that “Jesus was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Guess you can interpret that any way you want.
As you can see Mary is the Queen of Drama not the Drama Queen. And anytime you feel your life and your emotions spinning out of control, events and circumstances dictating how you react and feel, talk to Mary our Spiritual Mother. She experienced emotional suffering and pain caused by external events over which she had no control and she learned how to trust God and allow his Sprit to calm her and to bring all things to the good, no matter how hopeless or awful it seemed at the time. Just think of the Cross and how the most horrible thing any mother could ever endure was turned to Victory, Joy and Resurrection. So use the Rosary, go through all the Mysteries. They will take you through the life of Mary and her son Jesus, lead you through his Passion and death, only to take you back to Victory and Resurrection, ending with Mary being crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. Meditate upon the life of Mary who is our Spiritual Mother and make her the Queen of all your Drama.