(Luke 1:26-38) “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” With these words, the angel Gabriel greeted a young peasant girl in Nazareth named Mary. Full of grace, full of the Presence of God, Mary had been preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb. Yet Mary was only around 14 years of age when the angel appeared to her that day. It seems incredible to us that God would choose someone so young – someone who was still little more than a child herself – to be the Mother of His Son, the Saviour of the world. It seems even more incredible that God would first ask Mary to consent to His Divine Plan before bringing about the miracle of the Incarnation within her womb. After all, she could have said no! Yet God respected Mary’s freedom, just as He respects the freedom of each one of us. And as the whole world and all the angels in heaven held their breaths at that defining moment, so our hope, our salvation, and all of eternity hung in the balance. Everything hinged on Mary’s “yes” to God.
On the day of the Annunciation1, God asked Mary what He asks of each one of us. He comes to us in our daily ‘be-ing’, in the ordinary circumstances of our lives. He does not ask us to do something that would be unfulfilling or to become something that we are not. What God does ask of us is whether we will be open to receiving the gift of His grace so that we can be all that He created us to be. “Will you empty yourself and open your heart, your mind, and your entire being, so that I can fill you with the power of the Holy Spirit? Will you set aside your own hopes and plans – your own limited ideas for your future – to do my Divine Will and be truly happy? Will you accept this gift, this sign of my love for you?”
God invites each one of us to surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit – without any conditions or reservations – so that Christ can be formed within us. His only desire is to fill us with His grace so that we can be united with Him, so that like Mary we can bear Jesus into the world, wherever we may go. You may imagine that your answer is not so important as Mary’s, that if you say “no” to God, someone else will step in to take your place. While it is true that God can raise up others to be His hands and feet on earth, it is also true that He has created us as unique and unrepeatable individuals. He has a special plan for your life and there is no one else who can be what He has called you to be. Just as God depended on Mary, so He is depending on you. Who else can love your family the way you do? Who else can bring the same mix of gifts and talents to your place of work? Who will share the Good News of Salvation with those around you if you are not there to live that example and speak those words?
“Fiat. Let it be to me according to your word,” Mary murmured. With these words, Mary consented not only to the birth of Jesus, but also to His Death – to all of the joys as well as all of the sorrows of Divine Motherhood. You may wonder, “How will I have the strength and courage to say “yes” to God in my own life? How can I possibly hope to be like Mary? I have not been preserved from sin as she was!” But it is precisely because of Mary’s fiat that we can hope to give our own “yes” to God’s plan for our lives. In the Catechism we read, “Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: ‘Let it be to me according to your word.’ By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: ‘Thy will be done.’”2 Let us ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for us so that we, too, will be able to say “yes” to God, to do His Will not only today, but at every moment of every day.
– Sharon van der Sloot
1 The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is normally celebrated each year on March 25th. However, since in 2013 that date was the Monday of Holy Week, the celebration was transferred to Monday, April 8th, the day after Divine Mercy Sunday.
2 CCC, 2677.
“Our Lady said yes for the human race. Each one of us must echo that yes for our own lives. We are all asked if we will surrender what we are, our humanity, our flesh and blood, to the Holy Spirit and allow Christ to fill the emptiness formed by the particular shape of our life. The surrender that is asked of us includes complete and absolute trust; it must be like Our Lady’s surrender, without condition and without reservation.” Caryll Houselander