The Obedience of Faith
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)
On this feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, today’s Gospel gives us the powerful story of the Annunciation. Whenever I read it, I am struck with emotion at Mary’s faith and its implication for us.
Mary “was greatly troubled and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” When God presents us with his plan, we too might be afraid. We may not fully understand what he has in mind. It can seem that his plan is too great for us. But when God wants something from us, he shows us that it is not beyond our reach. As with Mary at the Incarnation, God will make it happen and will provide all the grace necessary for its completion.
When Gabriel clarifies Mary’s mission and illustrates that with God all things are possible, Mary makes an act of faith. Her act of faith is what the Second Vatican Council terms the ‘obedience of faith.’ The obedience of faith “is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals, and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him”. God supplied Mary with his grace and did not abandon her; nor will he abandon us. When we do what God wants and cooperate with his plan, he will support us. He will accompany us as we carry out his will and bring his plan to fulfillment. God’s will is our holiness, and when we do his will, we help God to make us saints.
We can learn no greater lesson than how to say yes to God. Mary’s “yes” reversed Eve’s “no,” and paved the way for Christ’s undoing of Adam’s fall. Likewise, when God disrupts our lives – through the voice of conscience, the normal responsibilities and demands of our state in life, or the indications of Church teaching – our “yes” can echo Mary’s and make more room for Christ in this fallen world. But our “no” – or even our “maybe” – can just as easily shut him out.
The same Messiah that formed such a close relationship with Mary from dwelling within her asks us to take Him within ourselves. He invites us, each day, to receive Him into our deepest selves as Mary did, and allow Him to grow there, most especially through His living Body and Blood in the Eucharist, becoming a God-bearer in our own lives. And, by extension, how to live as a tabernacle of His Life.
Prayer of The Day
O Lord our God, like a mother who cares for her dear children, you offer us the model of Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe. For the poor and the oppressed, she is Mother of Hope, and she calls all of us to justice and peace. To all her children, her sisters and brothers in this world, she proclaims the rewards of holiness. May we, in turn, prove worthy of Mary, Empress of the Americas, as we await the coming of the kingdom of her Son, Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
Conversation with Mary: Mary, teach me how to do God’s will as you did so that I can remain in his company. I want to do his will, even though at times I know that it may seem difficult or impossible. Ask your son for the grace of perseverance for me so that I, too, may cooperate with the Lord, whether he is asking something of me that is ordinary or extraordinary.
- Posted in: Reflections