Saturday, March 25, 2006

Let It Be

I’m not referring here to a Beatles song, but to the exclamation of Mary of Nazareth at the angelic visitation which announced the most decisive event in all of human history: the incarnation of the Son of God.

Our Lady’s “let it be” could only be uttered because of her “I am.” What she does follows from who she is. “I am the handmaid of the Lord”; therefore “let it be unto me according to your word.” If she is God’s servant, then of course, God’s will is to be done in, through, and by her. Simple, not easy. While Mary most likely did not comprehend the full import and consequences of what was about to happen, she was surely aware that it would turn her life upside down and that henceforth her life was not her own.

“Let it be” can also be translated “let it happen,” and this latter version seems more dynamic (it also can’t be construed to mean “leave it alone” as “let it be” can). Let God act, let God do the work of salvation. She had to let God enter her life in a way He hadn’t before, even though her spiritual communion with Him was already profound. She had to let God enter her body as well as her soul; she had to let something happen that had never happened before and that would never happen again—something that was utterly necessary to keep the human race out of Hell. Quite a burden to lay on a teenage girl! But she was chosen from all eternity to rise to the occasion of this very moment. And she was fully aware that she was the handmaid of the Lord. So, while all creation breathlessly awaited her answer, she said yes.

By the grace of the same Spirit who was about to bring about the unprecedented miracle, she exclaimed: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be unto me according to your word.” Her words have echoed down the centuries as the quintessential expression of surrender to God’s will. And her surrender ushered in nothing less than the salvation of mankind. For with God nothing is impossible, proclaimed the Archangel. By his grace it is not impossible even for us to “do whatever He tells you,” as Our Lady would later counsel. For she experienced herself the abundance of blessings that came from doing his will, even at great personal cost. The Lord is asking us not to count the cost, but to look to the ultimate and eternal reward for trust, obedience, and fidelity. Sometimes we eventually say yes, after grumbling, resisting, questioning, or simply trying to run away. The message of the Mother to us is: start by saying yes. Realize that you are servants of the Lord, and so his will is your daily bread. If you have any questions, ask them after you have already agreed to do what He tells you. Thus divine grace will bear its precious fruit in your life, and you will fulfill your divinely-ordained role in the great gathering of souls for the celestial Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

The Lord says to you as Gabriel said to Mary: “Do not be afraid.” The Lord loves you. The Almighty, whose name is holy, wants to do great things for you and through you. Say yes; don’t first consider your own ideas, feelings, or agenda. Just say yes, immediately, irrevocably, and the gates of heaven will open, sending down light and grace and strength that you may fulfill the Lord’s commands and reap the everlasting harvest of joy. We must, through faith, prayer, and humility, “let happen” what God wants to happen, in our own lives and in the world. To do this we must be at his disposal; his will must take priority over our own. Let us ask Our Lady to be our teacher and guide in saying this yes, a yes that must be repeated daily, hourly. Then the Holy Spirit will overshadow us, too, and our own spirits will rejoice in God our Savior.