Dearest Mary, handmaid of the Lord, may we continue to learn from your example what it looks like to obey in love. (“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your will”)
Holy Mary, mother of God, we are grateful that, aided by grace, you not only rejoiced in what the Father would do through you, but that you fully accepted your role—your place—not only in history, but in all eternity—as one glorious piece of the great puzzle—the fulfillment of God’s promise to His people. In you, we acknowledge the “promise He made to our ancestors” and we, in the same kind of awe and astonishment as in your own day, sing praises of joy and thanksgiving that He chose you to be the vessel that would bring forth His Son in to the world. We are grateful that the miracle of the virgin birth is nothing short of a continuation of the picture that God would paint time and time again—how He would use the small, the powerless, and the oppressed to bring light and life into a dark and dying world. (“Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus”)
Dearest Mary we have all imagined, as best as we can, the position you were in—especially in a culture not inclined to tolerate a pregnancy in an unwed, young girl. We can imagine, with some accuracy, the potential terrifying reality of your situation. What strikes us is that, though your flesh must have been crying out for escape, you reacted, instead, with that kind of promised peace that surpasses all understanding. (“My spirit rejoices in God my Savior”) You spoke not of your flesh but of your soul. In steadiness and steadfastness of heart you reflected your total submission to God. Here, in you, in the embodiment of a young girl, we were already getting a picture of the same kind of sacrifice that our Savior, the Christ, would suffer for each one of us. We were already being taught obedience. You were, Mary, even then, pointing us to Jesus.
This great gift that you were given, dear Mary, most likely did not feel like a gift at the time. After all, the gift was potentially life-threatening for you and it certainly changed what you might have anticipated as your life-path—a young Jewish girl soon to turn wife. Instead, your young life diverged onto another path. Form the perspective of mortal eyes, who would want it? Who would accept it? But your battle was not against flesh and blood—even then it was against principalities. And “He looked with favor upon the lowliness of His servant” and, by His grace, you were blessed. You were, by your very posture, willing to submit and, by submitting, your flesh bore the Fruit of your obedience.
Even in Cana, at the wedding feast, you tell the disciples, “do whatever He tells you to do”—once again, a beautiful example of your submission and trust—trust in His timing and the power of that timing. Submitting your will cost you, did it not? But, oh how much greater the cost had you not! For Jesus then goes on to perform His first miracle of turning the water in to wine. (“He has shown strength with His arm”) Again, you seemed to be telling us that the way of duty is the way to mercy—a way that points to something much bigger than ourselves.
Holy Mary, through your life you have brought us to a deeper understanding of what it means to be obedient in Christ. You have shown us, by example, that by offering ourselves in an open, receiving posture, we might expect the unexplainable. Mary, in your smallness and frailty—despite a life and social position that gave you no power—your weakness was made strong. In your complete openness to the Spirit and your humble obedience, you made possible room for the Divine—in the womb of your body did spring forth the Living God. The unexplainable, the miraculous, the mysterious; how God turns everything inside out and upside down; how He takes lives that account for nothing in earthly terms and lifts them up; how by poverty of spirit, He fills our emptiness and we are satiated; that is the miracle of the virgin birth. In the emptiness and poverty and suffering, He promises to do great things for each of us. And, like you, Mary, we rejoice in God our Savior.
Reflection by Nancy Kruezer
Click here for information about tonight's Feast of St. Mary service.