Mater Misericordiae

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In the Gospel, the Virgin Mary’s call is linked to Elizabeth’s call. Apparently, Elizabeth could not have children because of her advanced age. Nothing is impossible for God! Even more obviously, the Virgin Mary could not have been able to conceive a son because she was a virgin. Nothing is impossible for God! John’s and Jesus’ parallel coming to birth shows that all things are possible for those who love God!

Mary becomes the sacred and sacramental vessel worth being inhabited by God. God can make extraordinary whatever appears as ordinary; He uses what is ordinary to reveal His love and make our salvation possible: a sterile womb, a virgin’s womb, a bed of straw, the wood of the cross, bread and wine. Nothing is impossible for God!

My considering Mary as ordinary may seem to be irreverent. But she seems surprised, perhaps even overwhelmed by Gabriel’s proposal. Luke tells us she was deeply shaken. How could this happen? Mary interrogates Archangel Gabriel precisely because she considers herself to be ordinary and unworthy of this great responsibility. Nothing is impossible for God!

At the beginning, the holy Virgin Mary is understandably confused, but she decides to follow the divine plan. Only after having listened to Gabriel, the messenger of God, she proclaims with confidence: Thy will be done. And starting from Mary, God expects extraordinary things from each one of us: looking at something secular as if it were sacred, and even perceive the things of the world as wholly sacramental! Nothing is impossible for God!

This call pushes all of us to become full of grace, free from sin, free to accept God. And we are certainly full of grace every time we take care of those who have no friends, every time we forgive those who are unforgivable, when we remember people who have been forgotten, when we come in touch with the untouchables, when we listen to those who are unbearable, and every time we love people even when love for them is impossible. Today’s feast affirms that God expects us to become full of grace: to be holy and without blemish, to be at peace with each other, to turn the other cheek, forgive our enemies, bless our persecutors and lose our lives. There is no doubt that this is extraordinary, but it is not impossible because nothing is impossible for God!

But who? Me? – We might ask ourselves. Our reaction would not be different from Mary’s. How can we, ordinary people, become part of God’s plan of salvation? Mary shows us the way: by listening to God and reflecting on his Word; listening to what God has to tell us and to what He wants for our world. We may feel not good enough, it may seem impossible! But nothing is impossible for God!

The Lord comes to meet us in the ordinary events of everyday life; like Mary, we are called to bear Christ in our heart and to offer our neighbors the favor and divine blessing, especially to those who are poor and forgotten. Like Mary, we are called to become receptacles of His divinity; to become full of grace, allowing Christ’s life to grow inside us and making His divine life manifest to the others; like Mary, we have to make the world less secular, less ordinary and less worldly; like Mary, we are called to bring Christ into this world! Extraordinary, but not impossible. Nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible for God!

Elias R. Lorenzo, O. S. B., Prior of the Collegio Sant’ Anselmo, Rome

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