Detail of William Hole's "Annunciation"
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it unto me according to thy word.”

The Overwhelming “Shoulds”:

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all of the “shoulds” in life. I think about the problems in the world and my inability to respond to any of them in a significant way. I compare myself to men and women who seem to be almost superhuman in their sacrifice and dedication. I start to feel inadequate.

I have never been a type-A girl. I would rather share a quiet meal with an old friend than network at an important function. And I would rather pray alone at my Saviour’s feet than rush about preparing for the logistics of a worship service (though I realize both are necessary).

A quiet, humble saint

I have always been comforted by the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have friends who find this odd. Mary is a saint, a model of virtue, and the “God-bearer,” how could her example be anything but overwhelming? But what I love about Mary’s example is how passive she is in her obedience: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it unto me according to thy word.”

She hears God’s instruction for her and she simply accepts it. She simply says, “yes.” And then she treasures up all the things that happen to her and ponders them in her heart. She is quietly grateful and reflective. An somehow through her gentle, quiet obedience, God does something miraculous.

We remember Mary as a queen among saints and a woman honoured above all others. And yet, the quiet, passive obedience that she exemplifies is something I can emulate. I can choose to say “yes” to God. I can choose to live in quiet gratitude and reflection. I can embrace what God has given me and let go of comparing myself to those whose callings seem so much more valuable somehow.

We can be faithful where we are

To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). I have to remember that I have not been called to superhuman feats of sacrifice, nor have I been called to solve the problems of the world. In short, I have not been called to be someone else. I have simply been called to be faithful where I am, and to say “yes” when I hear God’s voice. After all, God is in the business of using unlikely people to accomplish wonderful – even miraculous – things. Who knows what he can do with me?

Look, I am your servant-girl: Whatever your will is for me, I am in agreement.
(Luke 1:38, my paraphrase)

“Seven Words of Jesus and Mary” by Fulton Sheen

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