Mary’s YES to the Lord can seem incredibly daunting. How could Mary, as a young virgin girl, hop on board so easily? Why do I struggle so much with discerning God’s will for my own life? Why can’t I say YES in the same way?
When Gabriel greets Mary he tells her that she is full of grace and that the Lord is with her. What wondrous words! God’s grace had already filled the Blessed Mother. And while this was her biggest YES to the Lord, it was hardly her first. Gabriel tells Mary she has found favor with the Lord. She has been living a holy life, following the Lord, and placing her trust in Him. She was given a special grace from God to prepare her for this moment. In short, she was given everything that she needed to make this decision.
Our God loves us. He does not desire to put us into situations we are completely unprepared for. Instead, He calls each one of us and is by our side constantly in life to prepare us for what He has in store for us. He gives each of us the grace we need to say YES to His call in our own lives.
But as I am only human, there are times when I still feel confused by it all. Times when I want to know more, to understand what will happen next.
Then I read those words again,
“How can this be…?”
Mary did not understand it all either. When Gabriel greets Mary, she is troubled and confused. Even after Gabriel tells her not to fear and that she will be the mother of Jesus, the Son of the Most High whose kingdom will reign forever, she asks, how? She wanted to understand.
Eve wanted to understand, too. She was literally surrounded by God’s goodness, but she still wanted to know more. She wanted to know the how and the why of it all. She also had a choice to make, and she chose to follow her own path, to turn away from God. Rather than trusting in His promises, she took matters into her own hands, choosing sin over God.
Mary chose differently. She was still confused. She still wanted to understand more. But rather than trying to figure it out on her own, she turned to God. She asked, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And she took the explanation that was given to her. Gabriel did not explain exactly how it would all work. He didn’t tell her how to deal with the questions from others, including Joseph! He didn’t reveal everything that the future would hold. But he did remind her “nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary didn’t continue to question the specifics of everything. She knew what she needed to know. And so she put her trust in the Lord and said YES.
Sometimes saying YES to God means we can see it all clearly before us. And sometimes, saying YES means knowing that we need to trust in Him even when we can’t understand how it will all work out in the end. We may ask the Lord, how can this be? To ask Him this is to seek His guidance. And though we may not see it right away, He will always answer with whatever it is we need to know. Even if all we need to know in that moment is that nothing is impossible for God!
When we are faced with confusion and doubt, when tough decisions come our way, when we simply feel the need to know and understand, we have two choices. We can choose to give into the temptation and place our quest for knowledge above our trust in God, as Eve did. Or, we can use the grace He has given us to say YES to God even though we may not understand it all. We find hope in the knowledge that nothing is impossible for God. And through this hope, through His grace, we can follow the example of our loving and holy Mother Mary and say “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”