Mary: A Woman Prepared and Surrendered to Love
By: Deacon Keith A Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
As we continue on our journey this Advent, invited as we are by the readings of the Divine Liturgy of the Church and surrounded with all the signs and symbols of our Christian life, we are challenged to “prepare the way of the Lord.” We are invited to consider two people in our Biblical readings, John the Baptizer and Mary, the Mother of the Lord. Both teach us about being both prepared by and surrendered to God.
Let’s pause and consider Mary as we open our lives and our homes this season, so that her Son may come and dwell within.
There are very few records of Mary’s explicit words in the texts of the New Testament of the Bible. However, there is no lack of her presence at the most significant events in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and therefore in the great events of salvation history. She always encountered God - in profound ways - from the beginning to the end of her life. In every encounter, she surrendered to love and was changed. She was a woman prepared by God and continually surrendered to His love.
Mary was there at the Incarnation, Birth, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of the One whom Christians proclaim is God Incarnate, Jesus Christ. She was there throughout what are often called the “hidden years” in His life at Nazareth where ordinary work was ennobled and childrearing forever changed because of His participation. His disciples spent three years with Him, during His “public ministry”, but Mary spent thirty three years! We should remember and reflect on the truth that in the earthly life of the Redeemer, every word he uttered - at every age and stage - and every act he undertook was redemptive, revealing as it does the very life of God and the mystery of heaven touching earth. Because of that, every moment of His presence among us reveals the deeper purpose of our own lives when they are lived entirely for Him.
Mary was there in all those pregnant moments of His complete thirty three year earthly mission of love. His redemptive presence forever changed the history of the world and can do so in our own personal histories if we learn how to surrender to His invitation to love and choose to live as she did. The mission of the Redeemer continues now for all who have the eyes to see His presence still walking and working among us; and the ears to hear His loving words still being spoken amidst the cacophony of our daily lives. Mary did.
His presence forever changed the world that we are all living in. We are welcomed into a new relationship with Him and therefore with this world that He still loves, if we invite His redemptive presence into our lives, co-operate with grace in order to change ourselves and allow ourselves to be prepared fro His coming. Every waking moment can now be filled with the invitation of grace, if we learn to discover their deeper meaning and make them our own. If we learn to live our entire life as, an invitation to love, an encounter with the God of love, as Mary did, we will find our lives transformed by the Son whom she bore for the whole world.
She was the first evangelizer and the first disciple of her own Son Jesus. She gave the first Gospel testimony to her cousin, Elizabeth, without words, as the Redeemer in her womb drew the child in her womb, John the Baptizer to Himself. He did so from the Throne he had established in Mary’s womb. Jesus, Love Incarnate, drew John from the very first home of the whole human race, a mother’s womb. At the beginning of that missionary encounter, Elizabeth greeted Mary with profound humility, saying “who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Then the son in her own womb became the first convert “in utero” as he leapt in praise of the Maker of the Universe, taken residence in Mary’s womb.
John the Baptizer, the last Prophet of Old Testament and first of the New, was prepared in a womb - and drawn by this amazing grace - without a word being spoken, through Mary’s witness of surrendered love. This event, traditionally called “The Visitation,” recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke (Luke l: 39-45), is meant to continue in our lives as we carry Jesus forward in time. It can through the witness of our surrendered lives of love.
In the Biblical account, this encounter immediately follows the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary (Luke 16:38) and is a fruit of her humble obedient response to the word of God which she was most certainly attuned to hearing. That response was not a one time reaction. It was the fruit borne from a life of surrendered love and it stretched forward to characterize and inform her entire life.
Mary was there at the Wedding Feast at Cana in Galilee, when the first of the Lord’s “signs” occurred - in a response to and as a fruit of - her intercession. It was there she gave that sage and still ...
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