[Editor’s Note: This article was first published on Catholic Stand on April 15, 2015. We are republishing here during this Christmas season because the message is timeless. Mary’s fiat to God’s calling should inspire all of us in our own submission to God.]
God approached a young woman, and she said, “Yes.”
Next, what she didn’t say was even more noteworthy. She didn’t say, “I will do this.”
Instead, she said, “Let it be done unto me.”
And then she thanked God for allowing her to be the one with whom He would give flesh to the most remarkable intrusion of divinity into human time: Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis is right when he says that we have not fully examined the genius of women in our Catholic theology. I am not a theologian, but it seems that the first place to begin is with Mary. Just as each statement uttered and each action taken by Jesus has deeper, Scriptural meaning, every statement and action by Mary teaches us how to be His disciple.
Mary allows God to work through her totally and without interference. She does not, like Zachariah, question the truthfulness of God’s messenger. Rather she naturally asks how she could be pregnant since she is a virgin, and then accepts Gabriel’s response fully and without doubt.
Thus “Let it be done unto me” should be our first prayer and response each day to our Lord. It is not for us to decide how God will work in this world or to tell Him what we are going to do for Him. Rather, by opening ourselves entirely to His handiwork in us and through us, we allow His grace to fill us and thereby entirely do His will. He will use us in ways we could never imagine possible, if we only allow Him.
Mary’s next discipleship lesson occurs at the Marriage of Cana. Noticing that the wine had run short, Mary does not say, “Jesus, make more wine.” Rather, she merely says to him, “They have no more wine.” She puts the problem forth to Him just as we should put our problems before God. We should not suggest solutions or devise plans and ask His approval. Instead, we should lay out the troubles we are having, and then ask that His will be done, trusting that He will always take care of us in the best way. He always does. Then we must listen.
Mary’s last known words in the Scripture reinforce the idea that we must always be listening to God in preparation for doing His will. “Do whatever He tells you.” This is a two part statement. First, we must listen to what our Lord tells us, and second, we must act as He has requested. Listening to our Lord requires silent time, focus on the Scriptures, and an openness to see and hear God speaking through those whom we may least suspect to be His messengers. By listening to an unknown woman at a wedding, a unsuspecting waiter was able to lay the foundation for a miracle. By promptly filling up six large purification jars with water, and drawing out some for the headwater, several anonymous servers witnessed a miracle. Such are the kinds of amazing things which can happen to us if we actively listen to God’s requests and “do whatever He tells” us.
Finally, Mary was not ashamed to be known as one who loved Jesus. Unlike many of the disciples who fled after Jesus’ arrest, Mary stayed close by during the torturous trek to Calvary. Even though He was humiliated, mocked, and vilified by the crowd, she stayed steadfast in her love and association with Him. The opinion of the crowd did not turn her away from her Son, before, during, or after His suffering, death, and Resurrection. Could we be as steadfast and trusting?
Isaiah tells us in Chapter 58 that if we refrain from “following [our] own pursuits”, “seeking [our] own interests” or “pursuing [our] own affairs,” but instead “delight in the Lord”, He will make us “ride upon the heights of the earth”! Saying “Yes” to God, seeking that His will be done, listening for His voice, and acting accordingly results in the most amazing and powerful witnesses to God’s beauty, power, and design. As a servant of God, we go along for the ride of our life, an awe-inspiring, joyous, daily adventure, throughout our entire life on earth, and for all eternity. What better way is there to live than this!