Monday, December 9, 2013

Will she obey, or will she choose her own way?

"In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal." - Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church

Gospel text: ( Luke 1: 26 - 38 )
In the sixth month, 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, favored one! 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.

In the pristine beauty of the Garden of Eden, Eve chose to disobey God, and with her choice, sin entered the world. In Nazareth, Mary chose to obey. With her “yes” to God, she became the new Eve and began the undoing of Eve’s disobedience, ushering in God’s grace and redemption. Her yes reversed Eve’s no.


Each of us is presented with a myriad of choices throughout the day. They can bring grace into the world, or they can bring discord. Of course, we don’t have the benefit of being born without original sin, like Mary. But we are redeemed! When we were baptized, we were cleansed of original sin. Through Christ we have also been blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Ephesians 1:3). So we have all the resources we need to make the right choices.

As Mary did, so can we do. In each yes or no we choose, we can bring forth grace into our lives and the lives of those around us, or we can allow sin to damage us. Will we mess up, and will we say no sometimes? Of course. But that doesn’t mean we should give up! If we say no or if we fail even to see the choice in the first place, we can still receive God’s forgiveness and restoration. God will always give us another chance. And with every yes that we say to him, his Spirit will strengthen us further for the next choice. And the next one. And the next one.

Maybe the “angel” who presents you with a choice today will come disguised as a co-worker or as a child asking for your help in the middle of a busy day. Maybe the angel will wear the distressing disguise of the poor or a disagreeable neighbor. Recognize your choice: will you say yes to God and give of yourself to this person? Will you become a bearer of grace to that person?

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