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December 1981

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. (Lk. 1:38) 

This is another word from the Scriptures that you are called to live. I think you will know the extraordinary circumstances in which it was said, and who said it. 

An angel came to Mary, a young girl from Nazareth, and he made her the special announcement that she would become the mother of the Messiah. 

Mary was firm in her decision to remain a virgin. She pointed out the insurmountable difficulty in achieving what she was asked, and she requested a sign. The angel revealed to her that her cousin Elizabeth was also expecting a child, and she had been thought unable to bear children. "In fact", the message concluded, "with God nothing will be impossible."

It is at this point that Mary declares: 

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.

Before God who chooses her as mother of the Messiah, and who makes her a protagonist in his plan of salvation, Mary shows unconditional trust, and she abandons herself completely to him. But in all simplicity, and with the freedom of love, she asks for light to understand. She is not a slave who blindly subjects herself to her master, she is a daughter who behaves as such before God, her father. But once she has been enlightened she fully commits herself with all her being. 

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.

" ... I am the handmaid of the Lord". 

Once she understood her destiny and had been reassured by the sign that had been offered, Mary trusted in God's omnipotence and expressed her act of obedience and of faith. 

From beginning to end, God's commands which are all ordered to man's salvation, demand obedience. With Abraham's act of obedience the history of salvation began. With an act of faith and obedience Mary adheres to God's plans in the fullness of time. With an act of obedience Christ entered the world and through an act of obedience he left it. 

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.

"... I am the handmaid of the Lord".

For the fulfilling of his plans God has need only of people who give themselves to him with all humility, and the willingness of a servant. Mary - the true representative of humanity whose destiny she takes on herself - with this attitude leaves God all the space for his creative activity. 

However the title 'the Lord's servant', besides being an expression of humility, was also a title of nobility. This title was given to the great servants of salvation history, such as Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets. With these words Mary affirms her greatness. 

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it he to me according to your word.

Mary's words tell you, as a believer, how you must live your reality as a Christian. In fact her words have always been considered as the highest expression of all religious behaviour before God, because they show simultaneously an attitude of passive availability and of active readiness; her words reveal an inner emptiness and a complete fullness.

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.

Mary's is a high and great destiny. But the Virgin is not the only one whom God calls to generate Christ in herself. 

Although in a different way each Christian, and this means you too, has a similar responsibility. You also must incarnate Christ in your person to the point of repeating with St. Paul, "No longer is it I who live, it is Christ who lives in me." 

What is the way of doing this? 

By welcoming in yourself the word of God with the same attitude as Mary: the word that is given to you during the sacred Eucharist on Sundays, or that you get to know from your reading of the holy gospel, or even through this word of life which comes to you month by month with its commentary. 

Welcome it by putting yourself completely at its disposal knowing that it is not man's word. Being God's word, it contains in itself a presence of Christ. So welcome Christ into you in his Word. 

Put the word into practice, moment by moment, with active promptness. 

If you do this the world will see Christ again passing by on the streets of our modern cities. Christ in you, dressed like everyone else, working in offices or schools, in the most varied circumstances, in the midst of everybody. 

What is even more, the world will see the spark of the revolution of the gospel being spread from Christ who dwells in you. The gospel revolution transforms everything and makes men and society into a more human, a better, a more united world. 

Take courage. A magnificent divine adventure is awaiting you. Do not lose your chance. 

Chiara Lubich

 

 

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