What do these words even mean? Why do we hear them this time of year? They sum up all that the Blessed Virgin had to say in her radical act of obedience over 2000 years ago and reflect what should still be on the lips of the faithful even today.
When the Angel Gabriel appeared with his famous salutation: ““Hail! Full of grace! The Lord is with you!” we can only guess at Mary’s shock! She was called “Full of Grace” --this 14 year old girl. And that was an ANGEL speaking to her!
What she was about to hear could be considered:
a. the greatest news ever delivered: She was to be THE MOTHER OF JESUS! GOD’S CHOSEN ONE the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD! He would LOOK LIKE HER! HER flesh would became HIS FLESH! She was actually to become an active part of the INCARNATION…
b. you might think that she was the most severely TESTED person that God has ever “chosen.” She was VERY young, UNWED, and she was going to run a BIG RISK if she were to cooperate. What of HER OWN LIFE? It would be on the line. HER future, HER plans, HER dreams? All disposed of. HER life would never be the same.
Of course, she could say NO. Who would ever find out? Just she and the Angel knew, right? No witnesses, so-- no foul, no harm. She could just lay low and go back to being Mary of Nazareth, marry Joseph and settle down. All safe, all good.
She was going to have to decide what to do in the BLINK OF AN EYE…
Would she look at this as a blessing? Or as a burden that she did not want to carry?
(Do we see all that comes our way, life’s “interruptions” as blessings from God or burdens?)
Mary, with ABSOLUTELY NO HESITATION said:
“BEHOLD (Ecce) I am the handmaid of the Lord.” “LET IT BE DONE TO ME ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD.” (FIAT)- Which is her YES!
And when she finally went to meet Elizabeth her pregnant cousin she exclaimed:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!" (MAGNIFICAT!)
Ecce! Fiat! Magnificat!
Her Ecce! means: “BEHOLD. LOOK AT ME. HERE I AM GOD!” She is a model of our return to innocence and of TOTAL TRUST AND FAITH IN HIS GOODNESS. We, too, are to stand before God, naked and unashamed, even though we are less than perfect. He wants us to enter into a loving relationship with Him, just as we are. The Great News is that we are now a new creation because the Blood of Christ has washed us clean from the stain of original sin at our baptism and united us to God. And each time we go to confession, He washes us clean again.
Can you say Ecce? BEHOLD? Here I am Lord! I am ALL yours! ALL of me to be loved and to be used by You for Your purposes because I TRUST in You! ?
Can you say FIAT? Mary’s FIAT! was probably not her first “yes” to God. She had been brought up by her parents to be faithful in the little things and so she was now able to be faithful in the BIG. Are we faithful in the little things God asks of us daily? If so, when the BIGGER asks come, we will be able to say “YES!”
In this YES of Mary's we see her HOPE in what the angel said to her. We see that her HOPE lies not in her OWN UNDERSTANDING...how could it? This was beyond anything normal! Mary had HOPE in God, so that even if all that she thought could go wrong did GO WRONG...HE would see her through it. She trusted in His Promise!
Where do you place your hope today? What you can see? Your circumstances? Or God and His Word? As Christians we believe that even if the “worst” thing happens… “death”, we have HOPE for eternal life! So even the “worst” is not truly the “worst” when we have HOPE IN GOD!
“We know that all things work for good for those who love God,* who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Can you say MAGNIFICAT? Mary chose NOT to let the joy of her present be robbed by any fear of the future. Do our “If only” and the “Should haves?” or our longing for the “good ole days?” rob of us confidence in the love God has for us?
Do we dwell on what’s NOT right with our situation instead of praising GOD for what is RIGHT? DO we gaze at the NEGATIVE and forget to praise God for all the many good things he has placed RIGHT IN FRONT OF US?
THANK GOD and PRAISE GOD! Make a THANKFULNESS JOURNAL this year! Make a point to praise Him for the little blessings in the everyday!
One way to PRAISE HIM is by listening to praise music. It changes your atmosphere. Thankfulness makes you a “Temple”, a dwelling place in which FAITH, HOPE and LOVE can flourish--a place in which Christ CAN HAPPILY BE BORN AGAIN IN US-- Just like He was in Mary.
May this Advent and Christmas you have the Faith to say:
Ecce- BEHOLD here I am Lord!...weaknesses, sinfulness, failures and all... BUT I TRUST in YOU to do a great work in and through me anyway.
The Hope to say:
FIAT! YES! “Let it be done to me” - according to YOUR will Lord - not mine. My HOPE is in YOU!
and the Love to say:
MAGNIFICAT! I "My soul proclaims the GREATNESS of the Lord!" I praise and thank You, Lord Jesus, for the great gift of Your mercy and for all Your many gifts, including perhaps, even my small sharing in your cross.
I pray that you will be able to utter, like Mary a YES that will change YOUR WORLD and the world of those around you.
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
May I have the faith to believe in your great love for me, so much so that whatever you ask of me I will be able to say “Yes, Lord!” Please give me the grace to believe that Your word is true-er than my circumstances and that I can trust that You always have my best interest in Your heart. May I be like Mary, whose hope was in You alone, for there is no other way for Jesus to be born in this world today without all of our 1000s of YESES to You and Your ways each and every moment.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.