The angel said to Mary, “For nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).
God is doing something in the world today and he created you to be a part of his plan. What is our answer? The Gospel passage quoted above recounts Gabriel announcing to Mary that she is with child. The same Gospel is read every year at the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is important to note that, from her own conception, Mary’s life is wrapped in a cosmic destiny that forever altered the course of history. In particular, she will give birth to the most important figure in human history: God who becomes man. Jesus is God made man; he is the God that comes after and pursues humanity and offers us his life fully and completely. He wants us, but he also wants us to bring him into the world as Mary did.
Today I want to highlight some things about Mary’s “Yes” or, literally from the Greek, “Let it be done.” I think it’s important to start with Mary’s purity of heart in choosing God’s will. To see Mary’s purity of heart, Jesus gives us some helpful insight: “A woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!’ But Jesus said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it‘” (Luke 11:27-28). Some people may see this as a way of Jesus downplaying the role of Mary, but if you look at the words, Jesus is simply redirecting the woman to exactly what is so great about his mother: her faithfulness to God’s will. In this, she “has found favor with God” (Luke 1:30) so much that the angel called her “full of grace” or “the one having found grace with God” (Luke 1:28). I don’t know what you think, but angels don’t just go around saying those kinds of things to people very often. Mary is a special lady, particularly because of her faithfulness to the will of God.
In her encounter with the angel, though confused and unsure about her future, Mary has heard the will of God. Though she could’ve strayed because of being overwhelmed or having doubt and uncertainty, she decided to choose the will of God perfectly (immaculately!). Her response is a response of faithfulness: “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” This is a huge lesson for our lives. When things get difficult, confusing, challenging, or (perhaps even more importantly) when things are going well, faithfulness to God and consistency in our yes to his will is what really matters most. “In everything God works for good with those who love him” (Romans 8:28). We are blessed to have a God who will never turn his back on us. God will be faithful to us. There is more to the importance of Mary’s yes, however, than simply the fact that God is faithful to those who are faithful. God wants to use your faithfulness, as he used Mary’s faithfulness, to also follow Mary’s example in bringing Christ into the world.
In order to bring Jesus in the world the way that she did, Mary must have been a singularly special woman (and that’s exactly what she was, of course). As with anyone who is special in any way, we must not allow ourselves to feel lesser in comparison to her. Rather, we should learn appreciate the gift that she is, while being clear that we are also meant to be a gift. We are not a gift primarily because of our production or the fact that we do a service project or because we help where there is a need, though all of the those things are good and important things (and I highly encourage doing them). Primarily, however, we should know that we are a gift because God has chosen to make us and give us a unique, unrepeatable life. Moreover, God has given us a purpose for this unique life of ours. The purpose is simple yet somewhat overwhelming, namely, to be the person God has created you to be. God has a plan and a will for your life (cf. Jeremiah 29:11). The first thing we must do is to decide to live for him, and to say with Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord.” When we take on this attitude we begin to unite our faithfulness with the unique qualities that we bring to the world.
In the end, whatever God has for us uniquely and specifically, we must start by presenting ourselves to him as his servants. Once we do so, God’s desire for our lives will begin to unfold and we will begin to take our place in the cosmic destiny (yes, this is serious stuff!). God desires men and women of our time, in our day and age, to follow Mary’s example and say “let your will be done in my life.” When we say yes to God’s will, as Mary did in a singular way 2,000 years ago, we will continue the legacy of bringing Christ into this world which has always so desperately needed him. This world’s thirsting for Christ will be quenched when men and women choose to truly embrace the idea of “not my will, but yours be done.” God is still coming after and pursuing humanity. By letting his will into your life, you are letting his will into the world. Let this time of the year be a reminder that God can do amazing and unimaginable things in our world. Whether things are going well or there is confusion and uncertainty, God wants to use you. Let your “yes” be like Mary’s and bring Christ into the world.
“For nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).