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Friday, August 15, 2014

Yes, God

We learn from Mary to say “yes” to God’s call, and to joyfully live into that yes with our lives, and we learn from Mary that it is God, not us, whose power transforms and upends the world through us.

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
The festival of St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord
   text:  Luke 1:46-55

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

What might we learn from our sister Mary who walks with us on our journey of faith?

There are saints who live in our lives, model faith to us, teach faith to us, walk beside us in the flesh for part of our own journey, pray for us, love us, and are God’s love to us.  These continue to be our inspiration, our guide even after their path has left ours and we walk on without them.

The great saints of the Church are more remote to us, they can’t compete with such closeness, such life as those blessed ones we knew.  But the Church has lived for 2,000 years knowing that all the blessed saints continue to be our fellow travelers on our journey.  The crowd of witnesses surrounds us, walks with us: those near to our lives and those, like Mary, further away.  In the mystery of the Body of Christ, we know they celebrate Eucharist with us, but we don’t know how.  They are with us.

Like those whom we knew ourselves, these great saints of the Church are as important as teachers, as fellow travelers, as guides.  Not because they were more special than we, but because, like we, they walked the great journey of faith in the Triune God, blessed by the resurrection life of the Son of God, our Lord Christ.  They, like we, stumbled.  They, like we, were faithful.

What, then, might we learn from our sister Mary when we realize she still walks with us on our journey of faith?

Perhaps she can gently remind us that we can also answer “yes.”

God asked something of her, and she agreed.  She didn’t bargain.  She didn’t say, “I’m not qualified.”  Mary simply pointed out the biological difficulty: she was a virgin, so how she could bear a child?

Father Richard Rohr says this:

“[Mary’s] kind of yes does not come easily to us. It always requires that we let down some of our boundaries, and none of us like to do that. Mary somehow is able to calmly, wonderfully trust that Someone Else is in charge. All she asks is one simple clarifying question. Not if but how, and then she trusts the how even though it would seem quite unlikely.” [1]

Whatever we might speculate about why God chose Mary, this openness is the truly remarkable thing about her.  We know the many difficulties she would face with her yes, possible death, almost certain ostracism by her family, her betrothed.  But she said yes.

What might happen if we let Mary teach us such openness and trust?

We are called to bring the Good News of God’s love in Jesus into the world.  To let our lives be turned upside down by the Holy Spirit, changed utterly, that we become bearers of God’s love into the world.  That in our bodies, in our hands, in our voices, in our hearts, God’s incarnate Love might continue to be in the world.

Our sister Mary, walking alongside us, hears our Lord ask us her question: will you do this?  And she gently says, “say yes, without bargain, without argument”.  She says to us that it will be all right, because we can trust that Someone Else is in charge, and all will be well.  In our fear, our selfishness, our anxiety, our reluctance, this fellow companion calmly opens up the possibility that we could also be a part of God’s saving the world.

Perhaps Mary can also encourage us to see that God did bring life to the world through her.

She said “yes,” and God did what Mary was promised.  From the beginning, she knew and sang, in her beautiful song, that it would be “the Mighty One who does great things” for her.  Even in her yes, she claimed that strength: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord.”  She knew she wouldn’t be doing this, God would.

And with God’s gracious strength, we, too, will see God do wondrous things in us.  Our sister Mary’s life alongside us reminds us that even saying “yes” with confidence doesn’t stop the path from being difficult.  Mary’s path certainly wasn’t easy, nor should we expect ours to be.  Once we face the reality of what it might mean to be changed into Christ, our desire can weaken.  There will be times we are tempted to falter and believe God cannot do anything through us.

Mary speaks to us graciously, encouraging us to trust that God is charge, not us.  That this Spirit-changed life is lived in Christ, not in ourselves.  She reminds us that, as she stayed with her Son and Lord, that is where we need to be for our strength and life, to live out our “yes”.  To live the Word, to come to this great Meal of life and forgiveness, to seek out this body of Christ in which we are blessed to live, our fellow travelers in God’s community of love here.

This is how the Triune God will shape us to bear Christ in the world in our own flesh and blood.  To give us power and help to do what we say “yes” to, to forgive and bless us in our failure, that we might start bearing Christ into the world anew.

We rejoice in the mystery that our sister Mary is among those saints who surround us, pray for us, and support us.

The goodness and mercy of the Triune God is almost more than we can comprehend, that we are not left to walk alone, we are surrounded even by those who have passed through death into eternal life.

It is that Triune God whose call to us to be the same to others on their journey, to be Christ-bearers, love-bearers, that our sister encourages us to answer with a “yes”.  May the Holy Spirit likewise give us her courage and grace, for the sake of the world.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen

[1] Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation for August 3, 2014,

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