March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. It is a day to look to Mary and ponder her Yes to God. And, what a Yes it was. Pregnancy and birth is seldom easy. An “unexplained” pregnancy for an unmarried girl carried the death sentence of stoning. Mary felt fear yet allowed her fears to be calmed by God’s promise. She did not fully comprehend, but who could? All she had at her disposal was her faith. If she was saying Yes to God, then certainly all would be well.
We often image Mary as the gentle hand-maiden meekly acquiesing to God’s will. Yet, her Yes did not come from cowering fear or blind obedience. She questioned and discerned and only then freely agreed to God’s will. This is what makes her blessed. God could have used her without her consent, but then she would have simply been a human vessel. Instead, she fully cooperated with God and became an active agent in God’s plan.
It takes courage to say Yes to the unknown. It takes even greater courage to reaffirm that same Yes when the unknowns are replaced with difficult or unexpected realities. Our Yes’s are easily forgotten in the face of suffering. The certainty of dreams and visions of goodness and glory vanish quickly when we struggle to seek God’s hand in the midst of darkness and evil.
Mary’s Yes led her to an uncomfortable birth far from home. She faced the hardships and fears of a refugee in Egypt. She felt the gut-wrenching trauma of every parent when they think their child is lost. Mary did not fully understand her son’s ministry and must have feared for his safety. How could she understand the horrors of his death?She said Yes at the annunciation and she continued to say Yes throughout her life.
In these times of Yes’s too easily retracted, of commitments too easily broken, Mary is a model of faith for us all.