Posted by Sara Hofflander – co-founder of beopentoGod.com
As a young woman just beginning marriage and family life, it has been a great grace for me to look to Mary during this Advent and Christmas season. Living as a woman actively involved in the world, it can be hard to detect God’s hand moving in my life and to know how to fittingly respond. Mary, the kind of girl we all wish we could be, shows us how it’s done. First at the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel appears to her, who was a simple and perhaps comfortable young woman, and presents to her a glorious challenge to become the Mother of God. Mary’s response, “How can this be?”, teaches me so much. She is not resisting God’s call, nor is she doubting his ability to make it happen, but she wants to know how. This how grants her the clarity to be able to more readily serve him. Once she understands how, she immediately gives her fiat – let it be done. Mary teaches me how to make my prayer: “Help me, Lord, to understand your will so that I may more readily do your will.”
After her yes, the Gospel of Luke says she goes in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth. It’s almost surprising to think of Mary moving in haste, but this serene, gentle woman was called to something extraordinary, and she responds immediately. She has been given something great from God, and she wastes no time in moving to share that gift, the love of her Son, with others. Her action teaches me not to be fearful in responding to God’s love but to boldly allow him to transform what I think, say, and do so that he can work through me for others.
Following this story, Mary stays with her cousin Elizabeth, returns to Joseph, journeys with him to Bethlehem, and then gives birth to a Son in a stable. This trying and somewhat ordinary event is greeted by angels, shepherds, and wise men all expressing awe at what God had worked through her. Mary’s response? She ponders all these things in her heart. Mary’s life was filled with difficult journeys, persecution, and uncertainty yet also with incredible blessings from God. So, too, our lives are filled with trials and joys, some expected and others not so much. Mary has taught me to embrace this turbulence with trust in God and to pause frequently to ponder these things in my heart. She has shown me how to discover deeper meaning in my day-to-day life and to acknowledge the hand of God at work, unfolding his beautiful plan.