The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.”
Often this passage from Luke’s Gospel conjures images of a submissive Mary. A young woman who is overwhelmed and helpless to understand what is being asked of her. Certainly Mary would have not expected a visit from an angel and she probably was startled by the announcement. But to me, her response is not that of a weak or frightened child but instead that of a strong woman who appears steadfast in her convictions. Mary believed in God. Mary allowed God to work through her without hesitation. Perhaps she understood more than the Gospel tells us.
Any mother will tell you that the love of her child is primal and inexplicable. Mary’s love would have been no less than that of any mother. She would likely have been concerned about bringing a child into the politically turbulent world in which she lived, not to mention the very unconventional way that she found herself with child. And yet her love overshadowed any insecurities she may have had. Mary is a model for all of us. Mary took an active role in God’s plan. She wasn’t just a vessel. She didn’t just submit. She stood tall at His cradle and at His cross. And proved that love conquers all!
Christmas comes with hope of renewal. Christmas raises our expectations of peace and goodwill. Friends and families unite. Celebrations take place. Joy is proclaimed throughout the world.
But Christmas itself doesn’t end hunger, or war, or poverty, or terrorism, or racism, or homophobia or violence, or human trafficking, or all other injustices. Still, Christ comes at Christmas and we are reminded by Mary that if we believe in God and take an active role in His plan, we can bring peace to our world. Let it be me who takes a stand; performs a small act of kindness; who makes a small sacrifice for another. Let it be me who shares a smile; who speaks a kind word; gives a gentle touch. These things multiplied by the millions as we proclaim our Christmas joy will transform our world.
And so I ask God, “Let it be” me who helps make a difference this year. Will you join me?