Happy Feast of the Annunciation!
Have you ever thought about how powerful Mary’s simple “Yes” to God’s will was? Because she said “Yes,” the unborn Christ child became incarnate at that very moment, and our redemption was at hand.
We live in a world that is full of sorrow, pain, and suffering because people would rather say “yes” to their own will and “no” to God.
Many say “No!” to faith altogether. There is no room for God in their lives. They do not seek Him, and would not wish to find Him.
Many say “No!” to the prohibition against false idols. They reject God Himself, but fill their lives with silly little gods of material things or physical pleasures or notions of success.
Many say “No!” to the idea that anyone or anything is sacred, especially God. The most cynical of these use God and the trappings of religion for their own personal gain, which is a particularly contemporary form of blasphemy. The honest, but wrong, blasphemer may curse God, but the dishonest one of our age pretends that he alone talks with God every day and has all the answers--for a price.
Many say “No!” to the idea of worship. They might consider themselves Christian in some vague way, but they also say they are “...spiritual, but not religious.” They do not pray.
Many say “No!” to the demands of family relationships. They disrespect their parents or neglect their children. They mock the whole idea of parenthood by supporting the commodification of children through the evil of IVF and similar technologies. They bring dishonor and shame on their families by their lives of sin.
Many say “No!” to the sanctity of life. They support unjust wars, violence, and torture. They applaud the militarization of the police on the one hand, or the violence of the mob on the other. They refuse to listen to the Church regarding the death penalty. They support abortion and praise those who slaughter innocent unborn children in the womb. They clap for those who agitate for euthanasia or even those who commit it whether by taking their own lives or those of others. They are part of a culture of indifference to the prisoner, the homeless, the desperately poor, the drug addict.
Many say “No!” to the sanctity of marriage. They support fornication, adultery, remarriage after divorce, contraception, sodomy, and the evil of gay “marriage.” They support, or are indifferent to, a culture of porn and a coarsening of the public square, with its ads and music and “entertainment" accessible even to children. They participate in the trivialization of sexual evil as presented in popular culture by consuming those offerings unquestioningly and deriding those who do not. They mock the whole notion of chastity and virtue.
Many say “No!” to the rejection of theft. They steal time from their employer, who then steals even more from them by paying them a salary based on a 40-hour workweek and then demanding they work 50, 60, even 80 hours a week. They steal by cheating on their taxes, by falsifying coupons or other “deals,” by copying works that are protected by copyright.
Many say “No!” to the primacy of truth. They lie to themselves and to others. They demean and criticize. They gossip, spread slander and detraction, commit calumny, and otherwise harm the reputations of others. They form “cliques” and exclude those they deem unworthy. They excuse as “good lies” those committed for political or social reasons, as if the end of lying can justify the act of lying.
Many say “No!” to avoiding illicit sexual desires, avoiding the coveting of someone else’s wife or husband, avoiding the coveting of a person or relationship that is inherently sinful. They give bad advice to those seeking divorce, encouraging them to leave a valid spouse for some person they are not married to and can never validly marry. They put a primacy on adult happiness that fails to take the pain and suffering of the children into consideration.
Many say “No!” to avoiding the coveting of others’ goods. The sin of envy rises large in our society. It makes many separate the poor into categories of “deserving” and “undeserving” instead of remembering that we help the poor because we are followers of Christ, not because of anything a poor person may or may not deserve. This “no” fosters a spirit of greed and acquisitiveness, and blinds many to their own avarice, and their lack of charitable support, financial and otherwise, not only to their communities but to the poor within their own extended families. They judge others for not making good financial decisions without first walking a mile in their shoes.
Many of us do many of these things. All of us do some of them. All of us say “no” to God on a daily basis, even if it’s in a moment of selfishness or anger or of a desire for something that is not good for us.
But Mary said, “Yes!” And because of that, our many cries of “No!” to God’s will do not have to doom us for all eternity, if we seek to take her as our model of the acceptance of God’s will and the submission of our own.