By Father Rich Tomkosky
“May it be done to me according to your word.” What a simple yet history changing response! As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, Mary’s prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time.
Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father’s plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ’s conception; at Pentecost for the formation of the Church, his Body.
In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance He had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made “full of grace” responds by offering her whole being: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord: let it be [done] to me according to your word.” ‘Fiat:’ this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God’s because He is wholly ours (paragraph 2617). Mary finally responded to God as He wanted all humans to respond.
How does Mary respond to God’s initiative in such a beautiful way and how can we do the same? Well, her response presupposes a relationship of Trust in God.
The dictionary definition of trust is a good one in this regard: 1. Firm reliance; confident belief; faith. 2. One in which confidence is placed. Mary knows in the core of her being that God loves her and so she trusts Him. According to Church Tradition, she was 14 or 15 years old at the time, which is amazing! God’s love for us is indescribable. If you or I were the only person on the face of the earth, God would have come down to save us! That is what God has revealed to the saints in their mystical or direct experiences of God in prayer.
Do we believe that truth? Have we experienced God’s personal love for us on an experiential level? I remember when it happened to me at 17 when I received my call to the priesthood. It is beyond words. What an awesome experience! And it can happen at different times in our lives. It’s not a one-shot deal.
Let’s pray that God will visit each one of us in a profound way, if this hasn’t already occurred or maybe for some reason we were not aware of it! As I said the other week, the only thing that can blind us to God is sin. He wants all of us to experience His personal love for us, no matter what sins we committed; but this only occurs if we are willing to let go of it in the miracle of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and trust in His mercy; and then with His help are willing to change each day for the better and live in His saving grace. Jesus, I trust in you!
Why don’t we hear God’s voice in our lives? Or don’t recognize His time of visitation? Well, it comes down to how open we are to the working of the Holy Spirit, docility to the Holy Spirit, the person of the Trinity who draws us to the Heart of Christ who leads us into the eternal embrace of the Father.
The Holy Spirit teaches us how to be obedient to God in all areas of our lives, not out of a sense of slavery but freely out of love, from within, like the Virgin Mary. Being obedient, which means having a listening heart, is the only path to salvation. “Not my will but your holy will be done O Lord.” “Let it be done to me according to your word.” If we humbly ask Mary, she will intercede with her spiritual spouse the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth, God’s saving truth.
The Holy Spirit makes our Catholic Faith come alive; it becomes a relationship of filial love between our souls and the Blessed Living Trinity. Once we become more docile to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we no longer simply accept the teachings of our Catholic faith as intellectual truths, which they are, but we now want to fully put them into practice possible in all areas of our lives under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
If our Faith is only in our head, then it becomes sterile and lifeless. It must move from the head to the heart — both mind and heart focused on God! Our Faith life then comes alive, and it leads us to live the new life of the Spirit in joy in our mind, heart, will, and in our daily choices we live the life of Christ under the direction of the Holy Spirit. This is the true path to holiness.
Let us humbly ask Mary, who cooperated with the Holy Spirit in total docility, to teach us how to do the same. This is the greatest gift we could give to Jesus — to say with Mary each day of the rest of our lives: Let it be done to me according to your Word, O Lord. Use me Lord as you will for the good of souls. God bless you.
Father Rich Tomkosky is the Pastor of Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish in Bedford and the Pastor of Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Beans Cove.