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Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord

Despite her all-too-human experiences of fear, confusion, and unworthiness, Mary gave of herself fully and completely to God; so much so that she is literally the first person in the history of humanity to truly and profoundly receive the Messiah. What makes her “yes” so much more intense is that Mary not only agreed to bear Jesus Christ in her heart in a spiritual sense, but also agreed to physically bear Him in her womb. Imagine that. Meditate on it.

Mary so loved God that she willingly faced the scorn of her contemporaries – even her family and fiancé – in order to become the complete servant of God. The first chapter of the Gospel According to St. Luke bears out this truth (emphasis added):

"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this be, since I have no husband?’ And the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:26-38).

Think about it this way: have you ever considered the possibility that God may have asked another woman to bear Christ in her womb? While ultimately this question does not matter, it does give us a valuable opportunity to consider whether another woman may have ignored, dismissed, or rejected this particular call of God in her life. Contra positively, this question also gives us an opportunity to consider the enormity of Mary’s “yes.”

Without knowing anything about how her family or husband-to-be would respond, without knowing anything about what the future would hold, Mary agreed to be the Mother of God (the word for this in Greek is Theotokos, which is literally “God-bearer”). By offering herself as the handmaid of God in such a deeply profound manner, Mary became, quite simply, the most important purely-human being to walk the face of the earth. That is why she is first among the saints, and why she is the model for every man, woman, and child across the planet.

Will you finally believe that nothing is impossible with God? Will you decide to become the handmaid of the Lord? Will you finally decide to let it be done to you according to His word?

Let us pray for each other so that we may all decide to live our lives in this way.

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