Mary as Disciple
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By Deacon Keith Fournier
Madonna of the Magnificat (Madonna del Magnificat) - Sandro Botticelli - 1480-81
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. Mary's profound Prayer, her "Fiat" (Let it be done) in response to the visitation from the messenger of heaven, the angel, provides a pattern of prayer and a way to live for every Christian. It issues forth in her song of praise, her "Magnificat." This song begins with the words "Magnificat anima mea Dominum" "My soul doth magnify the Lord" (Luke 1:46-55). However, the "Fiat" is more than a prayer and the "Magnificat" more than a hymn of praise. Together they reveal the Way of the first disciple, Mary, and together they constitute a lesson book, a guide, for this journey called life that we all walk.
Our lives, so real and human, with all of the blessings and all of the pain, can be packed with meaning, purpose and destiny, if we have eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to respond with the kind of voluntary surrender that was so beautifully expressed by the Virgin of Nazareth in her continuing surrender to God's invitation. This lesson book is desperately needed by Christians, indeed all people of good will, in this age so characterized by pride and arrogance.
The pattern of that prayer and song was the pattern of Mary's entire life. She continues, in her place within that great communion of saints, to invite us to follow Her Son. Mary the disciple lived a trajectory of surrendered love. As it was with her, so it can be with us. It begins with Gods gift and invitation, invites our response, leads to praise and is intended to bear the fruit of a meaningful life.
Virgin and Child with Sts Simon and Jude (Madonna di San Simone) - Federico Fiori Barocci - 1567
She said "Yes" to the invitation to love and she humbled herself. She confronted her own fears and she entered into a new way of living, the Way of Discipleship. All of this was in a continued response to the original invitation of love, which was a gift and a special vocation, initiated by a loving God. Through this continuing response, she assumed a life's posture of receiving and giving, she became a fruitful woman, a "God-bearer" or "Mother of God". She brought forth the Word of God! This is a prototype of the vocation of every human person to bear the fruit of our surrendered love to the living God.
It touches the inner core of the meaning of life for all men and women who are children of the one Creator. We were made to give ourselves away to the Lord and, in Him, for others. Mary's choice, her response to the invitation of a God who always respects our human freedom, is a singularly extraordinary event in all of human history. However, it is meant to be much more. It is an invitation to each one of us to explore our own personal histories and to write them anew in Him.
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