Every mid-August, the Church is given a gift to celebrate. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a most special day. It celebrates the unique role of Mary in our salvation. Mary, having been the perfect vessel for God’s Son, is assumed into Heaven, body and soul, upon her death. The memorial of the Queenship of Mary on August 22nd celebrates the arrival of our Lady in Heaven. Mary is the perfect model for how to respond to our vocation. We can do no better than Mary’s yes, her fiat. How can Mary help us to say yes to God?
First, Mary is holy. We Catholics believe that Mary was sinless from the moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, Anne. We call this doctrine the “Immaculate Conception” (yes, this doctrine is about Mary’s conception, not Jesus!). This doctrine makes sense, as Jesus’ sinless humanity must come from a sinless human! Mary was saved from the effects the original sin of Adam and Eve (which is why we call her the “New Eve”). Throughout her life, Mary was consecrated to God in holiness. She was prepared to receive the Angel Gabriel’s proposition to become God’s Mother. Throughout her life, Mary chose what was right, and stayed ever close to God. Even when her Son was being brutally murdered on the Cross, she stayed at His side.
Second, Mary is trusting. In other words, she listens for the voice of her Son. This is portrayed beautifully at the wedding feast at Cana in the Gospel of John. Realizing that the party was out of wine, Mary petitioned Jesus, saying, “they have no wine.” This prayer was not a demand for a specific want, but rather a lifting up of a problem to Jesus. Jesus’ reply, “my hour has not yet come” is not the type of response that any praying person would want to receive from God. It is, shall we say, non-committal. Mary does not get upset with this response, but rather says to the waiters, “do whatever he tells you”. We see Mary’s total trust in Jesus’ will. She is thinking that Jesus knows what is best. She will trust in Him. She will encourage others to do the same. This is still her message for us. Trust in my Son and listen to Him.
Third, Mary is eager! Often times a contrast is made between Mary’s response to the Angel’s message, and Zechariah’s response to the Angel’s message. You will remember that Zechariah is the father of John the Baptist. The Angel Gabriel visited Zechariah with the good news of John’s conception, but he greeted the message with skepticism. Mary told the Angel, “how can this be, since I have not had relations with a man?” The Angel told her that the child to be conceived would be born of God, not of man. And Mary responded, “behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me as you have said.” Mary greeted this wildly implausible message with great belief. Mary was not just resigned to be a prisoner of a fate, but she accepted her calling eagerly! She was saying, “let’s go!”.
Mary was holy. Mary was trusting. Mary was eager. We need to be all of those things as we discern our vocation. We need to believe in God’s loving hand on our life. God has a great plan for us, for our welfare, and not for our woe. God will guide us rightly through the desert of suffering. We need to jump at the opportunity to follow God. We have to let go of the “awe shucks do I have to” attitude of rule-following religion, and embrace the truth those rules embody with enthusiasm. That takes faith and love, too.
We might not be that great at being holy, trusting, or eager. But Mary was! It’s a good thing that we have her at our side to show us how to be real disciples of God.