Days of Advent, Seasons

Advent Day 15: Mary’s Yes …

Our love must not be a thing of words and fine talk. It must be a thing of action and sincerity
— John 3:18

Sooner or later we have to say, “I have to do what I have to do,” as did Franz Jägerstätter, the Austrian peasant who almost single-handedly opposed Hitler.  Have you ever been caught that way by the Word of God? “I just know I have to do it. My family doesn’t understand, my friends criticize me, but I know it is the Word planted in my heart for me at this time.” One must feel very lonely and filled with doubt at such times. Yet, after all is said and done, the will of God, more than anything else, is the feverish desire to do the will of God.  People who are centered in God instead of themselves always hear larger voices. Such people will know what they must do without being able to prove it. They have the passion to carry through on what must be done. Blessed Franz Jägerstätter was not supported by his church, church teaching, his bishop, his parish priest or even his wife (she told me so personally, with tears in her eyes!)

Mary’s “yes” was said in the darkness of faith. She was not certain, not assured by any Scripture quote, doctrine or pope. She just heard what she heard, and did what God asked her to do, accepting the consequences. She had enough inner authority to not need a log of outer authority.
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas

Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.
Dale Evans

Being Christ’s Hands in Our World

Mary said,
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.
Let it be done to me according to your
— Luke 1:38

To be faithful to God, we simply need to pray Mary’s prayer: “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” Our role as God’s human creatures is not to make ourselves God, but to be the hands, feet, and heart of God in the world. When we are worried or upset, we need to hand these cares to God, since by doing so, we admit that we are not God. Yet, there are times when God needs us. Because God is spirit, God must love the world through creatures — through us. When God needed Mary’s help, Mary offered herself. Without us, God cannot bring the neighbor cookies, bring the sorrowing dinner, teach a child to read, or practice prayers with the grandchildren.
— Joan Mueller from Praying Advent: Three Minute Reflections on Peace, Faithfulness, Joy, and Light

Don’t be distracted by anything but love.
Bob Goff

Mary, Perfect Image of Fruitfulness

O that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your prosperity would have been like a river, and your success like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.
— Isaiah 48: 18-19

How do we also give birth as Mary did?

We tend to manage life more than just live it. We are all over stimulated and drowning in options. We are trained to be managers, to organize life, to make things happen. That is what built our First World culture. It is not all bad, but if you transfer it to the spiritual life, it is pure heresy. It is wrong. It doesn’t work. It is not gospel.

If Mary was trustfully carrying Jesus during this time, it is because she knew how to receive spiritual gifts, in fact the spiritual gift. She is probably the perfect example of how fertility and fruitfulness break into this world.

We can’t manage, maneuver or manipulate spiritual energy. It is a matter of letting go and receiving what is being given freely. It is the gradual
emptying of our attachment to our small self so that there is room for a new conception and a new birth. There must be some displacement before
there can be any new “replacement!” Mary is the archetype of such self-displacement and surrender. If Jesus is the symbol of the gift itself and how God gives the gift, then Mary is the symbol of how the gift is received and treasured. Whatever God gives is always experienced as totally unearned grace and never as a salary, a reward or a merit badge of any sort. In fact, if you do experience it that way, it is not from God and will not expand your heart, mind and soul.

There is no mention of any moral worthiness, achievement or preparedness in Mary, only humble trust and surrender. She gives us all, therefore, a bottomless hope in our own little state. If we ourselves
try to “manage” God, or manufacture our own worthiness by any performance principle whatsoever, we will never bring forth the Christ
but only ourselves. Mary does not manage, fix, control, or “perform” in any way. She just says “yes!” and brings forth the abundance that Isaiah
promises (“river,” “waves,” sands of the seashore). This is really quite awesome!
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas

We all exist soley for this – to be the human place God has chosen for his presence, his manifestation, his epiphany … we are God’s words, we echo him, we signify and confirm him.
— Thomas Merton

The Blind Faith of Mary and Joseph

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
— Isaiah 7:14

Kingdom people are history makers. They break through the small kingdoms of this world to an alternative and much larger world, God’s full creation. People who are still living in the false self are history stoppers. They use God and religion to protect their own status and the status quo of the worldthat sustains them. They are often fearful people, the nice proper folks of every age who think like everybody else thinks and who have no power to break through, or as Jesus’ opening words put it, “to change” (Mark 1:15, Matthew 4:17).

How can we really think that Mary, if she thought like any good Jewish girl was trained to think, could possibly be ready for this message? She had to let God lead her outside of her box of expectations, her comfort zone, her dutiful religion of follow-the-leader. She was very young and largely uneducated. Perhaps theology itself is not the necessary path but simply integrity and courage. Nothing said at the synagogue would have prepared Mary or Joseph for this situation. They both had to rely on their angels! What proper bishop would trust such a situation? I wouldn’t myself. All we know of Joseph is that he was “a just man” (Matthew 1:19), also young and probably uneducated. This is all an affront to our criteria and way of evaluating authenticity.

So why do we love and admire people like Mary and Joseph, and then not imitate their faith journeys, their courage, their non-reassurance by the religious system? These were two laypeople who totally trusted their inner experience of God and who followed it to Bethlehem and beyond. There is no mention in the Gospels of the two checking out their inner experiences with the high priests, the synagogue or even their Jewish Scriptures. Mary and Joseph walked in courage and blind faith that their experience was true; with no one to reassure them they were right. Their only safety net was God’s love and mercy, a safety net they must have tried out many times, or else they would never have been able to fall into it so gracefully.
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas

Make Us Uncomfortable

Come Lord
Do not smile and say
You are already with us.
Millions do not know You
and to us who do,
What is the difference?
What is the point of Your presence
if our lives do not alter?
Change our lives,
shatter our complacency.
Make Your word
flesh of our flesh,
blood of our blood
and our life’s purpose.
Take away the quietness
of a clear conscience.
Press us uncomfortably.
For only thus is
that other peace made, Your peace.
— Dom Helder Camara in Peace Prayers

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