in Proverbs 31:10-31
As an Image of Mary of Galilee
10-When one finds a
wealthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
11-Her husband, entrusting
his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
12-She brings him good, and
not evil, all the days of her life.
13-She obtains wool and
flax and makes cloth with skillful hands.
14-Like merchant ships, she
secures her provisions from afar.
15-She rises while it is
still night, and distributes food to her household.
16-She picks out a field to
purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17-She is girt about with
strength, and sturdy are her arms.
18-She enjoys the success
of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed.
19-She puts her hands to
the distaff; and her fingers ply the spindle.
20-She reaches out her
hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
21-She fears not the snow
for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed.
22-She makes her own
coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing.
23-Her husband is prominent
at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land.
24-She makes garments and
sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts.
25-She is clothed with
strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
26 She opens her mouth in
wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
27-She watches the conduct
of her household, and eats not her food in idleness.
28 Her children rise up and
praise her; her husband, too, extols her:
29-"Many are the women of
proven wealth, but you have excelled them all.”
30-Charm is deceptive and
beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31-Give her a
reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.
This text written
approximately five hundred years before Christ was born gives us a powerful portrait
of the ideal woman, wife and mother. Her qualities could be summed up in the
1. She is content with
what she has and who she is. At peace with herself (verse 18a), others
(verse 28), her surroundings (verse 20), and her circumstances (verse 21a)
she is totally immersed in her vocation for which she was made. She is the
center of a happy home! She is devout and compassionate; she has a strong,
healthy self-esteem combined with a sense of humor (verse 25).
2. She is a
thinking individual who invests her time well. In a disciplined way she
takes charge of herself in order to be able to meet her family's needs. If
she does all attributed to her, she seems to have a twenty-four-hour job with little
time for herself .She rises in the night, her lamp never goes out (verse
18b); she takes care of her household, sews and plants a vineyard besides
(verse 16b). She is organized with a sense of planning; she takes the
challenges of her family as self understood. Apparently, she does not ever
procrastinate or neglect any of her duties; the opposite is true: she gives
herself magnanimously and without complaint (verse 18a).
3. She is dedicated.
This quality is manifested by her unselfishness and desire to live for
others. Her life is home centered and extends to the neighbors and
relatives. She is interested in the community where she exacts influence
(verse 20). Through her presence she reassures and uplifts everybody. She
gives them a sense of security, not only physically but also emotionally and
spiritually (verse 271). She is a teacher of integrity and honor (verse 26).
She shares the responsibility of their household and mission with her
husband as an equal companion. He is able to trust her and can share with
her his inmost thoughts, 'his heart' (verse 11). Thus, complemented by her
strength and spiritual support, he is able to mature and can be entrusted
with a high position in the city (verse 23).
clothed with strength and beauty (verse 30),
which come from her
centeredness on the Lord. Nothing on the exterior can touch or change
her inner sanctuary, her heart. She is confident because she has prepared
her inner self with strength and dignity. With her spirit of prayer she
guards her house and family from evil influences (verse 12).
From the outset it is
obvious that this kind of woman is not easy to find. The writer of Proverbs
explains that this special woman is indeed a treasure, worth far more than
rubies or pearls. In the Old Testament time, rubies (or pink pearls) were a
In Mary, the Maiden of
Galilee we have the ideal of such a woman of noble character. In the eyes of
God and of St. Joseph she is indeed more valuable, more highly prized than
all the precious gems one could possess.
Being raised and educated
in a pious Jewish family we can well imagine that the Blessed Virgin Mary was introduced to and
pondered Proverbs 31 as a girl and throughout her life as mother of the Holy
Family. Let us briefly examine her life in terms of the above-mentioned
1. Mary was content.
This is best reflected in her Magnificat. In humility, Our Lady proclaims
with wonder and awe God's greatness and the way she is called to participate
in it. From the hour of her creation, she was meant to be God's gift to
humanity .Walking in darkness and feeling the sword in her heart accompanied
this high vocation. Yet she pondered all in her heart and nothing could sway
her faithfulness to the covenant she had sealed with God.
2. Mary was a thinking
individual. The most prominent example of her ability to intellectually
penetrate a matter can be seen in her dialogue with the angel at the hour of
her Annunciation. Though totally disposed to carry out God's plan she needed
more information in order to give her free consent. Her thinking, however,
could be described as intuitive vision of the truth. It means ultimately
seeing everything from God's vantage point and responding with a liberating
3. Mary was dedicated.
In her a special sensitivity the Handmaid of the Lord sees others in their
uniqueness and limitations. She has a special sense for what needs attention
as we can see in her selfless service to Elizabeth. As wife and mother,
Mary's focus was totally centered on her duties. This is reflected not only
in terms of her actions but also through her being. Nothing was too much for
her if it served the well-being of her small family.
Outstanding testimonies of
this dedication are the rough circumstances of giving birth and the
subsequent flight to Egypt. Being so young, it was probably hard for her to be
deprived of the support of her extended family. Instead of complaining she
employed all her strength in supporting her husband and child by creating an
uplifting family spirit. She accompanied her Son and Savior wherever He
went, never questioning or demanding exterior recognition or honor.
4. Above all, the
Virgin Mary was God-centered and undividedly His own. Untouched by
sin, her being was always in harmony and her soul was an open vessel for His
graces. In return the Almighty turned to her with the fullness of His life.
The highest 'pearl' far surpassing all rubies of this world surrendered
Himself to her.
May her example inspire
every woman to imitate her. "Many are the women of proven worth but she has
excelled them all."
Return to Resources