MARY, THE WOMAN WHO SAID NO
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus… But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1, 26-34)
Though it seems incredible, Mary is the woman who challenge humanity’s history, with her beauty of thinking and her docility towards the Holy Spirit of God. As all women, Mary would have her life project with great precision! However, surprisingly, God “interrupted” it and she gets into a new project, to be the mother of her son Jesus! There it starts Mary’s challenge and her “NO” starts a tradition that, in its conception, considered women for just being mothers of their children and had no other task in that time’s society; that is why Matthew the evangelist wrote “not counting women and children.” (Matthew 15, 38)
By the Angel’s proposal, as God messenger, she would have felt overwhelmed, shy, diminished, thinking only about herself for herself: “I am a woman, what do I do with that message?” However, she asked “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” By asking for explanation, she takes power and she empowered herself with something that is of herself, as woman, wife, and mother…that is why she said NO to a life of apathy and cultural dependence by becoming “Lord’s slave.” She said NO to servility, so she made herself absolutely available for God and for the god of humanity. SHE SAID NO to stay quiet, because women and issues need to be clarified, so she starts her own faith road out of the ordinary of all the women of her time. Mary’s road would be difficult, because it is a road of faith that coincide with being woman, wife, and mother. The Second Vatican Council, in the dogmatic construction Lumen Gentium, says that Mary becomes a mother by faith. Before she conceives her baby physically, she conceived him in faith by accepting God’s word.
Apparently, God’s invitation to Mary seems to be a difficulty. However, she said NO to anxiety and pessimism to open herself for God’s grace that calls and invites her to this noble mission of being Jesus’s mother, thus becoming God’s greatest “allied” in the work of human’s salvation.
Mary then 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. (Luke 1, 38). Mary knows that everything starts in God. Our God is a gift, a grace and everything starts from it. Say NO to ostentation and quietly welcome God; happily serve God. Say NO to activism and meditate more in your heart about God’s mystery in your life. Say NO to superficiality and cultivate your deep and nobility of your soul. Say NO to submission to open yourself to the obedience that sets you free.
Because “God’s servant” says NO to consolation, indifference, relaxation, laziness, a comfort life and encounters her cousin who needs her help and company: “During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” (Luke 1, 39-40)
THANK YOU, MARY!
Thank you, Mary, because you said NO to everything that lessens human dignity and you said YES to God, humanity, church, and society. Helps us to take steps: steps of goodness and humility; steps of service and availability; steps of obedience and dedication; steps of attention, attention to others and dedication.
WE WANT TO LEARN WITH YOU
With you we learn to say NO to a mediocre life, to serve God. We learn to live a more solidary life, allowing us ourselves to go “here life cries”, leaving our consolation for providing help to those who need us. With you we want to learn to say NO to superficiality, we learn to cultivate more our depth in God. We learn to say NO to activism, for giving more time to meditation and sharing God’s Word.
With you, Oh Mary, we want to learn to be more humans, more women, more fraternal, more friendly, more consecrated, to surpass comfort and relaxation…and being more creative, in the community and in the mission, particularly in this year of Grace, the year of the centenary of Monsignor Ramon Zubieta’s death.
Mary, Hand of the Rosary, pray for us!
Sister Maria Luis Pedro Barao