Many of the religions of the world view God as above humanity. The proper human response to God is worship and submission. Obedience is required of the person towards God. God is holy, and we are not holy. Other world religions (or spiritual paths) view God as created. In other words, creation is God. Proper worship of God involves either a worship of natural things, or a fleeing into total spiritual detachment from the physical. Christianity, particularly Catholic Christianity, is neither one of these kinds of religion. Catholics believe that while God is eternal and supreme, requiring worship and obedience, God truly is in created things. God has entered into His Creation, and has a living relationship with us. God can be experienced in created things, even through people. No person teaches us the meaning of this important point more than Mary.
Why Mary? Why not use Jesus as an example of God in creation? Jesus would be a good example, but He being both fully God and fully Man, is a unique person in human history. Mary, on the other hand, did not have a divine nature. She was 100% human only. However, it was through Mary that God entered into the human experience. This is obvious by the fact that Mary was Jesus Christ’s Mother. Very literally, Mary’s humanity gave God a physical form. Without Mary, there would have been no Jesus Christ.
But it wasn’t only Mary’s biological gift that allowed Jesus to enter into the world at Christmastime. First, it was Mary’s discipleship that made this wonder possible. Long before Mary said yes to becoming Jesus’ Mother, she said yes to God thousands of times. She said yes to God by choosing humility – by trusting in God’s words in the Scriptures and following them. She said yes by putting herself in the caring guidance of God. She must have followed God’s lead many times, not always understanding, but always saying yes. Tempted by fearful uncertainty, Mary trusted in God, and set out on the faith journey. In preparation for the yes given to Angel Gabriel, Mary had been strengthened by so many little choices, so many little yesses. Mary’s faith brought God into the world many times before she became pregnant with Jesus.
This upcoming week is a “Mary” week. We will celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary on Monday, and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Thursday. In a way, the Advent season is Mary season. Jesus lived for us and died for us. He is the only one who brings salvation from our sins. He is the only one who gives us a share in His Resurrection. But, none of this would have been possible without the yes of a simple Hebrew woman. I would propose that God, who could have chosen to save us in any manner God wanted, chose to invite us to participate in our own salvation. We play a role. How? By making a simple choice to trust God, we activate the gift of salvation in the world. The truth of salvation is that it is not merely a “not guilty” verdict at the moment of divine judgment, but even more so a relationship consummated. It takes two for salvation. One person (Jesus) provides it. But another (you!) brings it to birth.
If you want a Merry Christmas, get busy saying little daily yesses to God, just like Mary did. And you will not be disappointed!