In the Gospel of Luke, Mary says yes to angel Gabriel, who asks her to bear God’s son. And she does so in perfect freedom. As do we—in our own lives. God meets us in myriad ways, through nature, through prayer, especially through people “For Christ plays in the ten thousand places, lovely in eyes and limbs not his,” as the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote. God invites us to join him, he invites us to follow him, he invites us to create with him.
But the decision is always up to us. We are free to say yes or no to God.
With her yes, Mary partners herself with the Almighty and is empowered to bring Christ into the world. This world-changing yes is what St. Bernard speaks of in one of his sermons on Mary: “Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.”
With our own yes to God’s voice in our lives we are also asked to nurture the word of God within us and bring Christ into the world—certainly not in the same way that Mary was, but in our own situations, and in our own ways. Using our own talents and graces we are called to bring Christ into the lives of others.
In describing the arc of the conversation between Gabriel and Mary, the Gospel of Luke perfectly describes the arc of the spiritual life: God initiates the conversation; we are initially hesitant and fearful; we seek to understand God’s word in our life; God reminds us of our experience, and, free to choose, if we say yes to God, we are able to bring new life into the world.