Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chosen By God

Chosen by God

August 15, 2012
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

By Colleen O'Sullivan

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.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” 
And Mary said:  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.  From this day all generations will call me blessed:  the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name.  He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.  He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit.  He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.  He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.  He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”  (Luke 1:39-55)


Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.


Today’s Gospel reading focuses on the Blessed Virgin Mary, the woman God chose to be the mother of his Son, Jesus.  Mary has had time to ponder the words of the angel Gabriel and their impact on her life.  There she is, a young girl betrothed to be married.  Things are going along as expected for most girls her age in that part of the world, when suddenly an angel appears and informs her that God has greater plans for her, that God has chosen her to bear a child who, the messenger says, will be the Son of God.  Visions of angry, disappointed parents, humiliation and embarrassment in the face of other family and friends, the almost-certain breaking of her betrothal to Joseph – all these must have raced through her mind.  God often attempts to lead us in unexpected directions in our lives and many times we dig our heels in and refuse to leave our comfort zones.  One of the beautiful things about Mary is her trust in God and her willingness to go wherever God leads, in spite of any trepidations she might have.

At the prompting of the angel, Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, whose life also has taken an unexpected turn as a result of God’s favor.  What a greeting she receives!  Elizabeth greets her as the “mother of my Lord.”  She tells the younger woman that her child is leaping for joy that Mary has come and because Mary believed what the angel told her.

Whatever initial fears may have beset Mary, she has conquered them.  Her response to Elizabeth is to sing of what God has done for her and what God is doing through her for all the world.  I am full of joy!  I am no one, but God has chosen me for a great purpose.  Future generations will call me blessed, not because of anything I’ve done, but because of what God has promised to do through me.  God is truly the God of the poor, the outcast, and the lowly.  Our God is a merciful God, coming to the aid of Israel as he always said he would.


In part, Mary’s greatness lies in her willingness to empty herself of whatever expectations she has for herself and her willingness to live faithfully the life God has chosen for her.  She will be led to many places not of her choosing, but she will always listen and follow.

How many of us can say that about ourselves?  The truth is that God has chosen us, too.  God created each one of us for a purpose.  Maybe we don’t have our vocations spelled out as explicitly for us as Mary’s was, but God asks us, too, to empty ourselves of all that prevents us from discerning God’s will and faithfully living it. 

Spend some time today reflecting on Mary’s response to God’s messenger.  Then ask yourself:  What is God calling me to do?  What is my response?  How can I be more like Mary?

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