As we move through Advent and into the Christmas season, I sit with Mary and reflect on her willingness to say “yes”. As I look at statues and pictures of the Madonna lovingly cherishing the child Jesus in her arms I consider one of her greatest gifts to me, the willingness to say yes.
Yes for me, in the secular world, is easy. Yes, of course I will come to your party, yes I will work a little bit longer, yes I will run and put together more options for an event. Yes, I will do and do and do. But, saying yes to God is an entirely different story. It is scary and I am unsure. What will happen if I say yes, perhaps to writing another faith-based book, or to speaking on faith, or to sharing my faith with others? It is in these moments that I consider Mary.
Mary said yes at such a tender age. She said yes to having God’s son, not knowing and yet knowing the heartache that could occur. She said yes, trusting in the Lord’s love and yet having no idea what that could look like. How could she know that saying yes to God included a pierced heart and unspeakable sorrow, and at the same time saying yes meant such tender love for a child so dear?
Today I look for those who have said yes to God. How do I know? I see it in their joy, in how they live and love each and every day. I think of beautiful examples of this witness; The Daughters of St. Paul, FOCUS missionaries I know, deeply faith-filled friends of mine. Do they know what tomorrow brings? Not any more than Mary did. But, they know of their trust in our Lord and through that trust springs their joy.
I want that joy. I want that trust, that faith. As we enter into Advent, the “Joy” of the Christmas season will be all around us. But, I yearn for the deeper joy, the joy of the heart, not the prettily wrapped packages or Christmas trimmings. For all her sorrow, Mary reminds us of the deep joy of yes.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is the song, Mary Did You Know? Did Mary know what she was saying yes to? I suspect not entirely, and yet, she said yes. Saying yes is very much about being willing to cooperate with the Lord. I like that word, cooperate. Mary cooperated beautifully. The Daughters of St. Paul cooperate joyfully. For me, I just need to learn the basics of how to cooperate with God. Why is it, I wonder, that it is easier to say yes to the secular world than it is to say yes to God?
As we move through Advent, we are in a time of preparation, of saying yes. We are in a time of listening with childlike abandon to the whispers of God. We prepare our hearts for the birth of our Lord. As I sit quietly in the chapel, Mary’s willingness to say yes to God stirs in me. I reflect on how those who trust in the Lord, live the joy of saying yes. I ponder what I am being asked to say yes to now, this Advent season. I pray that I will have the strength, the willingness, the courage to say yes, as Mary did, and cooperate with God. I look to those around me in faith and see their joy and know that it is in saying yes to God, that I too, can share in the fullness of our Lord.