When Mary told Gabriel, “May it be done to me as you have said,” She said “Yes” to being the mother of the Son of God, the Mother of the Savior. But that was not all She agreed to do.
She said “Yes” to being an unwed mother and then explaining to Joseph, as well as their families, friends and religious leaders that she had not been unfaithful to him. She said “Yes” to the whispers and glares and rumors about Her pregnancy, about her sanity, about her honesty. She said “Yes” to having Her child in a stable.
When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, Simeon told Mary that her own heart would be pierced by a sword. Ever think about what that must have been like for her? Imagine hearing those words? Being told, on a joyous occasion, that something so tragic would happen it would feel like a sword piercing the heart? That is what her “Yes” meant.
Then Joseph told Mary they could not return home to Nazareth. Their Child, Jesus, was in danger. Herod had heard that the long-awaited Messiah of the Jewish people had been born and was determined to kill Him. Herod then ordered the murder of all male children under the age of two. Mary’s “Yes” meant fleeing Her homeland, leaving behind family and friends.
When Jesus began His ministry, Mary was there. They were both attending a wedding. Mary told Jesus that there was no more wine. Jesus seemed to rebuff Her. But rather than argue with Him, she turned to those responsible for serving the wine and told them to do whatever her Son said to do. Her “Yes” meant encouraging Her Son to begin His ministry and providing a simple instruction for all Christ’s followers.
As Jesus continued His ministry, He was seen as radical, controversial and troublesome. There were probably those who thought He was crazy calling Himself the Son of God. There were plots to find ways to silence Him. His relatives were, at the very least, concerned for His safety. They may also have been concerned about their own reputations and safety as well. Some of them went with Mary to speak with Him. When Jesus was told that His mother was outside waiting to talk with Him, His reply was that whoever did God’s will was His mother, sister and brother. At that moment Mary’s “Yes” meant agreeing to be seen as being disregarded by Her own Son, even though, as Saint Augustine said, Mary absolutely did what God wanted her to do. So that rather than being rebuffed by Her son, she was actually the example for all His followers. Still Her “Yes” meant allowing others to misunderstand what happened. To use that incident to ridicule her and declare her unworthy of honor and/or veneration.
At some point she said “Yes” to being a young widow.
The most difficult moments of her “Yes” involved the Crucifixion and death of her Son. “Yes” to watching Him suffer a brutal and agonizing beating. “Yes” to standing by helplessly as He carries the cross, stumbling and falling. “Yes” as the nails are hammered into her Son’s hands and feet. “Yes” when Jesus tells her that she is to go with his disciple. “Yes” when Jesus tells her that she is mother, not just of a disciple, but of all God’s Children, human and non-human. “Yes” as she holds Her Son’s lifeless, bruised and blood-stained Body in Her arms. “Yes” to a sword, not just piercing, but shattering her heart. And “Yes” as her Son’s Body is placed in the tomb, knowing He will rise again and also knowing that Her life will never be the same because He will return to His Father in Heaven.
So much to have said “Yes” to… the greatest joy, the most profound sorrow… so much speculation as to what she did or did not know at each moment. Regardless of what she understood, what Jesus told her, how much He may have prepared her, still she had to say that “Yes” and live every one of those moments.