“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.” –St. John of the Cross
When I look at the example of Mary, two things stand out: her humble trust in God and willingness to surrender to God’s will. Humility and surrender, while of little value in our society, are essential to the spiritual life. Mary simply said “yes” to God. She did not try to prove herself worthy of God’s favor; she did not try to merit God’s grace by performing good deeds or spending hours in religious study. She did not try to manipulate God…nor can we. If we try to prove our worthiness or demonstrate our holiness, we will only manage to feed our egos rather than be fed by Christ. Mary’s quiet example is a source of hope for us because it frees us from the false notion that we can earn God’s favor. God simply wants to shower us with blessings, we just need to trust, surrender and say “yes.” We do not need to be morally fitting or spiritually prepared. We simply need to be awake and aware of the Spirit’s unmerited movement towards us. It is often during times of trial and trouble that we are able to look beyond ourselves and within ourselves in order to hear the gentle Voice whispering our name, calling us to a new birth in Christ.
I shared this reflection with my friend Fr. James, who is Orthodox monk and priest. He responded with this bit of insight: “At the heart of her humility was her willingness to risk. When she said ‘yes,’ she didn’t automatically see where it was all going to go. Her ‘yes’ was her willingness to let God take her, and do with her, whatever he knew best… no matter where that was going to end up being. Her ‘yes’ was her embrace of a certain kind of trusting blindness.”
The depth of the Christmas story, the depth of the Gospel message, is so deep it takes a lifetime to plumb…and even then it cannot be fully grasped. As I go through my day today, I hope I can pause often to ponder the kind of “trusting blindness” that Mary exhibited.