In the Catholic tradition, today is a special Feast Day of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Whenever one of these feast days rolls around, I’m always reminded of the simple yes Mary said to the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38), and how her submission to God changed the world.
Have you ever considered the fact that Mary had to say her yes in order for Jesus to be born? God never forces things upon us, instead He always gives us choices. If not, we’d be more like robots than humans.
Several years ago, I heard a sermon that focused on Mary’s yes. The priest touched on the fact that, up until recently, when someone said yes, they meant it. There was no ambiguity. He went on to say that, in contemporary society, our yes doesn’t always have the same meaning.
More often than not, when we say yes, we probably mean maybe. One example he gave was related to marriage. In the past, married couples stuck it out, in good times and in bad. People knew they made a vow, a promise, and gave their yes. Sadly today, many don’t view this commitment in the same way. The permanence of their yes is fluid, and things often fall apart when times are bad. It needs to be said that people shouldn’t stay in abusive relationships. That’s not what they said yes to.
Another example the priest gave was related to employment. In the past, even just one generation back, when you were hired, you had the job as long as you did it properly. Many people were employed by the same company for their whole working career, and when it was over, enjoyed a nice pension. They trusted that the company would fulfill their part of the agreement. Their yes was never doubted.
Today, we have at will employment, where a person, regardless of the job they’re doing, could be let go at any time. The average person will work for more than five companies in the course of their working career, and most will not have their hearts in it. The job is simply a means to an end.
Pension Plans? We’re learning every day about companies whose plans are insolvent. People working faithfully for decades will be left with little, if anything. Yes, retirement benefits are expensive. But commitments were made, and every effort should be taken in order to fulfill the employer’s obligations.
So, what does this all mean? I think it comes down to trusting God. It comes down to being true to our word. If we say yes, we should mean it. When we submit our actions and our lives to God, He’ll do what he promised, and the Bible is filled with his promises.
We can’t control everyone, not our spouses, not our employers. But we can control ourselves. Be true to your commitments to God and to others. Then our yes will mirror Mary’s, and that will make all the difference.
One reply on “Mary’s Yes”
The last paragraph is so powerful, Paul – and so true! We cannot control others – but we CAN control OURSELVES – AND we can control how we RESPOND to those things that do happen to us over the course of our lives. Victor Frankel, a noted philosopher and author of the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” was a holocaust survivor of those WWII work/death camps and indicates that those camps were a place where ALL control was wrested from the prisoners – but the prisoner still had control over how they reacted to their plight – whether they shared their bread with others – or stole the bread of others; helped or exploited others, etc.
It is our choices which define us and help to give our life meaning. Even in the worst of times and situations, we can still endeavor to choose good.