By Judy Klein
Have you ever secretly thought that you aren’t much like Mary, you probably never will be, and you aren’t even sure you want to be? To be quite truthful, I have.
My doubts about being like Mary stemmed from the misguided notions that in order to resemble Mary 1) God would have to zap my rather boisterous personality completely away 2) I would lose my voice and my identity, and 3) a degree of holiness would be required of me that is simply unrealistic and unattainable.
After many years, I finally came to understand that to be like Mary is, as Colleen C. Mitchell beautifully articulates in Chapter 1 of her book, to be “a dwelling place of the Most High God.” In other words, we are called to stand in the image of the Woman by assuming an open, willing stance to the plans and purposes of God, and in so doing to become a Christ-bearer and Christ-birther for the world.
It is to this exalted calling that Mary points us, and it is her example that we are specifically called to imitate. Such a mission will manifest itself differently in the life of every person, given our unique histories, circumstances, temperaments and gifts. But the one thing we all have in common with Mary is God’s plan for us to believe, receive, conceive and birth Christ to the world.
So how does this high and holy calling unfold for each of us individually?
The answer lies in our own graced fiat, in our simple and ongoing “yes” to God. Yes to the self-surrender of our entire being to the mighty, merciful One. Yes to personal and intimate communion with the lover of our souls. Yes to the Bridegroom’s invitation to marry him, carry him, and tarry in his love. Yes to an ever-expanding welcome to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Sounds wonderful, right?
Yet if you’re like me, you may sometimes experience yourself as a naysayer instead of as a yes-giver and life-bearer. You might blanche at the thought of earnestly praying may it be done unto me. You may find yourself bumping up against your own internal fears and objections as you question what wholly surrendering to God really means. Our fiat can feel like “I will not” as God invites us to let him come in more deeply, and as we wonder:
Does my yes to God require some kind of spiritual heroics or mental gymnastics? What if I’m not good enough, strong enough, or up to the task of bearing Christ?
Again, we must look to Mary to learn what it means to become a Christ-bearer—a dwelling place of God. Mary simply says “yes”—and God does the rest. Mary surrenders to God, and God’s presence comes to indwell her. Mary trusts, and God proves that he is trustworthy. If we ponder Mary’s great Magnificat, we see that all of her emphasis is on God’s greatness, might and mercy—even as she recognizes herself to be lowly, hungry and poor.
Mary’s greatest “achievement” was that she handed herself completely over to God. And when she did, his tangible presence and glory filled her small temple. God’s initiative and power accomplished far more in Mary than she asked for or imagined. And the same can be true for us. All we need do is be still before God, listen and say yes. And trust that God will do the rest.
- What feelings are invoked when I consider radically surrendering myself and my life to God? Fear? Hope? Joy? Doubt? Confidence in God? Or perhaps a mixture of many feelings?
- What (or who) am I holding onto that I am afraid to turn over to God?
- Am I willing to surrender now?
Father in heaven, I thank you for your tender mercies, which are new every morning. I give myself wholly to you, asking you to send your Spirit to rest on me, as it rested on Mary. Give me the grace, strength and courage to hand everything and everyone in my life over to you, especially myself and my loved ones. Make me a temple of your glory and a conduit of the presence of your Son, Jesus Christ. Give me the grace to trust as Mary did and to pray always, “Let it be done unto me.” Amen.
About the Author
Judy Landrieu Klein is an author, theologian and inspirational speaker whose first book, Miracle Man, an Amazon Kindle bestseller in Catholicism, chronicles her late husband Bernie’s near death experience and miraculous deathbed conversion. Her new book, Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God, is a CatholicMom.com imprint book published by Ave Maria Press. Judy shares her insights about the spiritual life at her blog, Holy Hope, which can be found at MemorareMinistries.com.