October is the month of the Rosary, and we had a nice cozy session yesterday watching Dr. Edward Sri’s “Walking With Mary” keynote at THIRST 2013.
I highly recommend watching the whole thing (grab a tasty beverage first), but in case you don’t have enough time, here’s a quick summary.
Dr Sri spoke about 5 steps that Mary took in response to God’s call, and how we as Christians can look at her as a role model in our own lives.
Here we go!:
1. She had an open heart
When the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary during the Annunciation, he uttered the famous words, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
The Gospel of Luke tells us that Mary was “greatly troubled” at these words. Why? Because these were the very same words that God spoke to Moses, Joshua, Gideon and David when He called them to undertake a difficult mission to do something great.
It’s troubling to be called to such a huge, scary responsibility.
But how did Mary respond? Luke tells us that she “wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” In other words, she didn’t run away. She didn’t allow her fears to enslave her.
Instead, she entered into an interior dialogue with God with an open heart, asking what was being asked of her.
2. She had a servant’s heart
Next, check out her response to the crazy news that she was going to become the Mother of the God. She says, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord.”
Think about what the word “servant” means:
- It means that she’s at the beck and call of her Master
- It means that even though she was given the freedom to live her own life, she chose to follow God’s plan instead.
In other words, she wasn’t so proud to think that she could make her own decisions about her life. She gave it all up to God, recognising that she, like all of us, are called to follow His plan, not hers!
In fact, she goes on to say, “Let it be done to me according to your word”. In fact, that phrase in Greek denotes a joyful embracing of God’s will.
So she not only submits to His will, she does it with joy!
3. She responded to difficult moments by turning to God
When Jesus was born, he was born in conditions of rejection, poverty and humility:
Mary was called to take a 4-day journey to Jerusalem in her third trimester, and not only that, suffer the humiliation of delivering her child in a stable. She could not give the basics of what any mother would want to give her child!
Have you had any difficult moments when you were wondering, “why is this happening?”
When faced with life’s difficult challenges, many of us will either panic and try to fix the problem, or just get discouraged. Yet, what was Mary’s response?
She “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”. (Luke 2:19) She didn’t complain about the unfairness of the situation. Instead, she reflected on them and asked, “God, what are You trying to teach me? What are you calling me to do?”
When we’re faced with difficult moments, it’s important for us to pause, pray, and ask what God is trying to teach us.
4. She said “Yes” to God even in the face of suffering
At the temple, Simeon prophecies that Jesus is “destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce (Mary’s) own soul too.” (Luke 2:25-36)
Woah. That is an intense thing for any mother to hear about her own child and herself.
She gets a clearer picture of God’s plan for her and her Son – one that will eventually lead to suffering. And what does she do about this?
She accepts it willingly, again, recognising that she is “the handmaid of the Lord”.
5. She said “Yes” to God once again even when reminded of Jesus’ suffering
We all know the story of the wedding in Cana: Mary asks Jesus to turn the water into wine, and Jesus responds with. “Woman, what is this between you and me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:1-12)
(Quick note: I read in biblegateway.com that in Greek, the word “woman” does not connote any disrespect. Good to know Jesus had good manners!).
Let’s break this down. The phrase “What is this between you and me?” denotes that Mary and Jesus see this first miracle in 2 different contexts:
- Mary sees it as doing a simple favour for the wedding couple
- Jesus reminds her that once he performs this miracle, it’s the official start of His ministry – one that will eventually lead to death and suffering. He reminds her that His hour of Passion has not yet come, but it will!
Yet, Mary turns to the servants and instructs them to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.
It takes incredible courage for a mother to repeatedly say “Yes!” even when faced with reminders of her Son’s suffering and death.
Let’s Walk With Mary
I love these steps so much because they’re such great reflections of what we’ll experience in our daily lives:
- We’re called to embark on a great mission
- We’re called to be His servants and serve His will, not ours
- We’ll face difficult moments throughout our lives
- We might even be faced with the prospect of great suffering
Yet, from her response to these situations, Mary is a perfect role model for each and every one of us:
- We’re called to receive His mission for us with open hearts
- We’re called to joyfully serve Him
- We’re called to turn to God when faced with difficult moments
- We’re called to repeatedly say “Yes” to God, even in the face of suffering
Let’s say a little prayer today to Mary, that we may become more like her in our own walk in Christ.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you
Blessed are you amongst women, And blessed is the Fruit of your womb
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death.
Image credit: sofi01