Mary’s Openness and Faith to the Divine Call


Mary’s ‘yes’ to the announcer, Angel Gabriel, illustrates Mary’s openness towards the divine call. After the model of Mary’s experience of God’s call, every vocational experience is essentially an encounter with God’s love who reveals himself to us by means of a threefold action – in the light of truth, love and personal invitation.[1]

Pope Francis, in his letter to consecrated men and women, emphasises, “Joy is born from the gratuitousness of an encounter. And the joy of an encounter with him and with his does not lead to shutting oneself in but opening oneself; it leads to service in the Church.  Do not be afraid to show the joy of having answered the Lord’s call, of having responded to his choice of love and of bearing witness to his Gospel in service of the Church.  True joy is contagious; it is infections; it leads one forward.”[2] Mary becomes the true model of love and its significance gradually emerges as she walks on the way of faith.  Angel Gabriel also has proclaimed the same truth about Mary.[3] It is Mary of Nazareth, who is our model on our way to pilgrimage. It is from Mary we learn to surrender to God and to trust in Him even in seemingly hopeless situations.

Mary was and is the one who is “blessed because she believed” she was the first to believe. From the moment of His birth in the stable at Bethlehem, Mary followed Jesus step by step in her maternal pilgrimage of faith. She followed Him during the years of hidden life at Nazareth; she followed Him also during the time after He left home when He began “to do and teach”[4] Lumen Gentium no. 56 states “The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith and loyally persevered  in her union with her son  unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping  with divine plan.”[5]

Thus, from Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things.[6] Mary was blessed with the gift of faith. Her faith was apparent at the annunciation, as we have seen already. She did not question the reality that she would have a child.  Mary knew that certain realities in faith are absolute but most are unexpected.

The life of the Virgin Mary is a sublime example of faith which is worthy of imitation. Her life was a ‘“pilgrimage of faith.” Like any one of us, she walked in shadows and hopes for things unseen. [7] In the Apostolic Letter on Porta Fidei no.13 Pope Benedict states: “By faith, Mary accepted the angel’s word and believed the message that she was to become the mother of God in the obedience of her devotion” (Lk 1:38).[8] Catechism of the Catholic Church presents Abraham as ‘the model’ of the ‘obedience of faith’ and then refers to Mary as “its most perfect embodiment.”[9]

Mary’s faith was an act of love and docility; it was free even if it was prompted by God and was as mysterious as the ever mysterious meeting point between grace and freedom.[10] Mary’s act of faith was totally a personal commitment; it was something unique, and unrepeatable. It was her deep trust in God which made it easy for her to entrust herself totally to God.[11] Her faith overcame every trial without ever yielding. For every consecrated person the Virgin of Nazareth is a teacher who teaches unconditional discipleship and diligent service. She responded to the gift of God with the obedience of faith that accompanied her all her life.[12] Mary’s earthly life is a journey of faith, hope and love, an exemplary way of holiness which began with the enthusiasm of her “fiat,” the exultation of the “magnificat,” contemplative recollection in everyday life.[13]

Mary is presented as the perfect model of a disciple because she followed Christ closely without compromising any of the Gospel values He preached and practised. Even though she was sinless, she had to persevere in her faith experience.[14] We too are called to journey with similar faith in the daily events of life. Mary lived her life of faith in the ordinariness of her life. Like many a house wife of Nazareth, Mary, too, was just ordinary. She had the joys and sorrows of a village woman, whether it was in the matter of her going to enrol herself in the census or of finding a humble abode to give birth to Jesus. The greatest test for the faith of Mary was while she was standing beneath the cross of her Son.[15]

[1] F.  Stockl, Mary Model and Mother of Consecrated Life, Philippines, ICLA, 2003, p. 54.
[2]  Francis, Rejoice:  A Letter to Consecrated Men and Women, Vatican, Librerie Editrice Vaticana, 2014, no. 56.
[3] Stockl, Mary Model and Mother of Consecrated Life, p. 140.
[4] M.R. Bunson, John Paul 11 Books on Mary, Huntington, Sunday Visitor, 1996, p. 187.
[5] Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Austin Flannery, ed.,   no. 56.
[6] Bunson, John Paul 11 Books on Mary, p. 188.
[7] G. Thirumalachalil, “Faith Journey with Mary.”  Catechetics 30, no. 3, 2015, pp. 35-40.
[8] Benedict XV1, Porta Fedei:  The Apostolic Letter on the year of Faith, Vatican, Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2012, no 13.
[9] Catechism of the Catholic Church, Vatican, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994, no. 144.
[10] R. Cantalamessa, Mary Mirror of the Church, Minnesota, Library of Congress Cataloguing, 1992, p. 44.
[11] Cantalamessa, Mary Mirror of the Church, p. 48.
[12] J.  Beyer, John Paul 11 Speaks to Religious 10, London: little Sisters of the Poor, 1995, p. 113.
[13] Beyer, John Paul 11 Speaks to Religious 9, p. 74.
[14] Rosage, Mary Scar of the New Millennium, p. 146.
[15] J.  Thondiparambil, “Faith and its Implications,” Bible Bhashyam an Indian Biblical Quarterly 39, no. 1, 2013, pp.  44-56.

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