And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord. – Luke 1:45
Imagine being the woman called upon by God to bear the Messiah – to birth him and to raise him – to be his mother. What kind of woman must you be in order to do this?
We have all sorts of stories about Mary’s purity, her submissiveness, her meekness, her daintiness, her freedom from sin. The idea is that she must have been pretty special in order for the divine Son of God to have resided in her womb for a spell. And for him to have been raised by her and to call her mother, she must have been pretty wise and virtuous.
But doesn’t that fly in the face of our basic understanding of the incarnation? Christ did not enter the world to find the most unsullied, sinless corner of it. He came because God loves all of it – all the nasty parts as well as the lovely ones.
Mary was probably no different from every other mother on the planet: grumpy some days, fierce in her love, sarcastic, frumpy. She was most likely prone to envy, anger, greed, pride, sloth, gluttony or lust just like the rest of us. She probably worked on all that, struggling not to fall short but doing so anyway. I’m sure there were times when she said the wrong things, punished instead of encouraging, succumbed to hurt feelings and acted rashly. No doubt she had lots of regrets.
The thing that set Mary apart is that she believed what God told her, and she said yes. Every single one of us is called to do the same. God is always looking for vessels for God’s mercy. Each of us was created to be just that – a holy urn of God’s astonishing love – each in our own unique way. It doesn’t take a special, purer you to take on the ministry God intends for you. It only takes believing in the nudges that call to you and saying yes. Saying yes we can pursue that most human journey: trying, failing, repenting, acknowledging God’s forgiveness and trying again.
On this day of celebration of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, let’s pray for the guidance that will allow us to discover how it is that we are called to birth the holy into the world. Let us pray for the courage to say yes. And may our yes inspire all our moments, so that we keep working to become clear vessels of God’s holy love, in the belief that what is spoken to us will be fulfilled through us, no matter what.