Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her (Lk 1:38).
Whether this is the first or thousandth time you have read this verse, the more important question is how many times have you said to God, “May it be done to me according to your word”? How would that be for a prayer to begin each day with and then reflect at the end of the day on how well we have heard and answered yes to God’s will?
Mary’s yes changed the course of human history. Her willingness to bear the Son of God who dwelt among us in our wounded human condition, was for the purpose to heal and to lead us home to communion with his Father. Jesus is the gift that keeps giving – and we receive his gift each time we say yes to Jesus. When we do so, we become less, as he becomes more, and the kingdom of God continues to spread.
Along with Mary, our yes that we make is not to be a one time yes, but we are to make a daily, moment by moment yes. As St Paul wrote to the Church of Thessalonica. We are to: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 16-17). We are able to rejoice always and pray without ceasing when we say yes to God. This does not mean that we rejoice in our pain, suffering, and struggles, but we rejoice in the hope, trust, and experiences that Jesus is present with us in and through our suffering. He does not abandon us to random fate. He is our source, our refuge, and our strength, present in all that we go through.
Our prayers of petition for ourselves and intercession for others, are another yes to his will, because they are an “admission of one’s own helplessness” (Lohfink 2014, 240). Prayer is a no to pride. Our willingness to ask for help and to help others are also practical ways of saying yes to God. There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto, so they went to by two, as Jesus sent his disciples. Prayer is a yes to our acknowledgement that we need Jesus to guide and help us. Service is a yes to the love we have received from him and willingness to share this love with others. May we rejoice this third week of Advent as we draw ever closer to celebrating the birth of Jesus who is Emmanuel, God with us. This reality was made possible by the handmaid of the Lord. Say yes to Jesus and rejoice!

Photo: Who says that you can’t experience joy in Religion Class?
Lohfink, Gerhard. No Irrelevant Jesus: On Jesus and the Church Today. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2014.
Link for the Mass readings for Thursday, December 20, 2018: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122018.cfm

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