Tuesday, March 25, 2014

According to Your Word

By Beth DeCristofaro

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!  But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!” (Isaiah 7:10-12)

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. … 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. (Luke 1:34-35, 38)

Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)

Ahaz, King of God’s Chosen People, prefers to do it his way and rather than put his faith on God relies on the might of another army.   We all know how that goes because how simple it is for us to do the same.  We find a job, mission, a vocation which we feel is in align with God’s will for us.  Then we get diverted with a bid for power.  Or we find ourselves eaten up with jealousy when we are passed over, or we get caught up in workplace drama, gossip and character assassination.  We might find our skills and talents so well used that we neglect to notice that the ethics of our employer or the products and goals of our business are morally questionable.  Most likely even Pharisees and Sadducees started out to do God’s will but were sidetracked with their own station in society.

The Angel told Mary not to be afraid, but how could a young, unmarried woman not be?  Her “Yes” while everlasting was also to be played out again and again throughout her life.  Imagine the dilemma of finding your missing boy in a temple, teaching.  When he says to you Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49), do you box his ears?  Go home leaving him alone in another town?  Scripture says he was obedient and presumably, she knew he still needed her maternal guidance.  Later Mary challenged her Son telling the servants at the wedding to “do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5) knowing his potential.  And she followed on the path to Golgotha perhaps in tears, perhaps wailing but accepting God’s will for herself and her Son.  She was willing witness to her Savior’s eternal “Yes”.

God granted abundant mercy even in the face of Ahaz’s arrogance.  God promised Emmanuel, “God is with us” to a recalcitrant people.

Mary’s beautiful prayer is a speaks not only the depths of God’s love and action for God’s people but can help us realize our own focus, priority.  By saying the prayer slowly and intentionally we can imagine ourselves as “fearing the Lord”, arrogant, dominant, lowly, rich, hungry.  How are we, in any of these ways, relying on other authorities or ourselves alone?  Conversely, how do we accept that it “be done to me according to God’s word”?  Ask for Mary’s help and Jesus’ grace to redirect ourselves as needed.

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