The Feast of the Annunciation was recently celebrated on March 25th. In the Gospel Luke 1:26-38, the Evangelist tells us how Gabriel appeared to the young Mary and asked for her cooperation with God’s Will to bear His Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. Her fiat, or yes, to cooperate with the Divine Will is indicative of the immense virtue and grace she exercised which we should aspire to emulate.
Here are 5 ways Mary’s life of virtue and grace can inspire you to give a resounding “Yes” to God in your own life this Lent.
1. Say “Yes” to Trust
Mary’s fiat was not a passive surrender, but rather a joyful abandonment and longing to fulfill the dreams of her beloved God. The first time Mary speaks in the Gospels is when the Angel Gabriel comes to tell her that she will be the Mother of Jesus. Mary is shocked and cannot understand: “How can this be?” (Lk 1:34) But her faith in God overcomes her doubt: without understanding what nor how, she is able to declare with all her heart: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be to me as you have said.” (Lk 1:38)
With the side-by-side narrative of John the Baptist’s similarly foretold birth, St. Luke contrasts Mary’s response with Zechariah’s. Mary’s “yes” is very different from Zechariah’s “yes” to God’s plan. After Gabriel announces the impending birth of John, Zechariah’s response is not one of faith and curiosity, but one of doubt and questioning. In contrast, Mary receives God’s word to her in complete trust.
Mary’s trust in the Divine Will allowed her to bear many trials from before Christ’s Birth until her Assumption. During the season of Lent, we prepare for Christ’s Passion, and trust that in three days, He will rise again. Let us place our trust in the Divine Will.
2. Say “Yes” to Faith
In Luke 1:29 and Luke 2:19, Mary is pictured as a woman of faith who pondered all things, Jesus, in her heart. Mary’s recollected faith teaches us the importance of listening to God’s word, pondering the truths of our faith, and praying daily that our faith be preserved and strengthened.
As we journey through the difficult season of Lent, we should strive to ponder the mighty and miraculous workings of God. Though meditating on the Stations of the Cross and his dying words, we are reminded of Mary’s suffering immensely watching her Son suffer the pain of His Passion. However, we are also called to hold fast to the faith like Mary did.
3. Say “Yes” to Sacrifice
Mary was betrothed to Joseph when the angel, Gabriel, visited her. Her unexplainable pregnancy tempted Joseph into considering sending her away when God intervened with a vision (Mt 1:18–25). But this was only the beginning of the difficulties Mary would face.
When Joseph and Mary took the infant, Jesus, to be presented at the temple, they met Simeon whom God had promised would live to see the Messiah. As Simeon prophesied, he made clear that for Jesus to fulfill his destiny, Mary would have to suffer. Her soul would be pierced by the cruel religious elite in Jerusalem and their treatment of her Son. Her soul would also be pierced by the suffering her Son underwent on the road to Calvary.
Being a faithful member of the Body of Christ almost always requires some form of sacrifice. During the season of Lent, we pray, fast, and give alms in anticipation for the death and Resurrection of Christ. These small sacrifices remind us of the immeasurable sacrifices of Christ and His Mother, Mary.
4. Say “Yes” to Obedience
At the Annunciation, Mary’s fiat, “let it be done to me according to your word,” in Luke 1:38 demonstrates her complete obedience to God and to His will for her. Church Father, St. Irenaeus, says Mary “being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” Her unequivocal and total surrender to the will of God is a testament to her fully living a life abiding in the glory of God.
In modern culture, people are tempted to satisfy their own desires instead of submitting to the divine authority of God. The antidote is a total self-abandonment to divine providence, allowing Mary’s fiat to be our own motivation to obey God’s will. All Catholics are called to actively participate in their salvation by humbly accepting and following the will of God. By rejecting the temptation to do what we please, all of us are brought closer into a relationship with God.
5. Say “Yes” to Prayer
Luke’s narrative of the Annunciation and pregnancy of Mary provides another contrast when Mary visits Elizabeth in her final months of pregnancy. The Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth. She begins blessing Mary and her baby as her own baby leaps for joy within her. In Luke 1:45, Elizabeth declares, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
In Luke 1:46–56, Mary’s response to this blessing glorifies the Lord and her unreserved acceptance of God’s will, is seen in her hymn of praise and humility known as the Magnificat. This prayer found in the Gospel of Luke reminds us how even the meek and lowly are called to serve the Lord in the greatest of ways. Her prayer exemplifies the utter joy in accepting God’s will without fear of the consequences.
“And Mary said:
‘My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.’” (Luke 1:46-55)