Or, rather, something I’d never really noticed before.  This morning’s Gospel is from Luke 2:16-21.  Here’s the opening few lines:

The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say.  As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.

What I hadn’t noticed before, is that the shepherds — who are arriving after having been directed to the stable by the angels that appeared to them — aren’t just telling other residents of Bethlehem, or other travelers, or other shepherds, about the angels:  they tell Mary and Joseph.  And Mary and Joseph were astonished, and Mary treasured this news and pondered it.  

Why would be they be astonished, since they were the two people who actually knew the truth about Jesus, and had already had angelic-interaction on these issues?

 I wonder if maybe Mary was on the verge of second-guessing herself.  "Was all that angel stuff a dream?  Is this baby really the Son of God?  Because, um, I just gave birth in a stable.  (Ick! What is *that*? I was GIVING BIRTH on THAT??) My baby is lying in a cattle trough.  This doesn’t look very king-of-kings to me."

 The Savior of the World has just been born.  Why wouldn’t Satan be doing all he could to try to discourage Mary and Joseph?  Why wouldn’t Satan be trying to tempt the Mother of God into falling into despair?  The tempter had a lot of material to work with.

And then the shepherds show up and confirm for Mary and Joseph that which maybe they were on the verge of doubting.  Perhaps just in the nick of time?  Scripture promises we will not be tempted beyond our strength, but pushed to the limit of our strength is fair game.

This fall I read this nice photo-biography of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity.  One of things — the very best thing — I learned from that book is the prayer, "Blessed Mother, be a mother to me."

I expect that when we are feeling very pushed, very much at our limit and on the verge of despair, it would be a good time for that prayer.  The Blessed Mother can no doubt be counted on to send us just enough encouragement to keep us going and relieve our doubts.  And she really knows what it is to be given some heavenly encouragement at just the right time.

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