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December 1996

Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38)

These well-known words of Mary, passed on to us by Scripture, are part of the Gospel account of a most extraordinary event. However, they are words that we, too, are called to put into practice. Mary was still a young girl at home in Nazareth when an angel appeared to her and announced that she would become the mother of the Messiah. At that point Mary declared:

Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.

God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, thus giving her a leading role in His plan of salvation. In response, Mary expressed her unconditional trust in God and placed herself entirely in His hands. But with utmost simplicity and with the freedom experienced by those who love, she also asked for the light to understand. She was not a slave submitting blindly, but a daughter; and so she acted as a daughter would towards God, her father. But no sooner did she receive the light to understand, than she adhered wholeheartedly.

Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.

Mary was certain of God's omnipotence. Now that she was aware of her destiny and had it confirmed by the sign given her by the angel, she openly declared her faith and her obedience.

From the beginning to the end, the commands of God regarding salvation always demand obedience. The history of salvation began with Abraham's act of obedience, and in the fullness of time, Mary showed her willing acceptance of God's plans through an act of faith and obedience. Because of an act of obedience Christ came into the world, just as through an act of obedience he left it.

Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.

"I am the servant of the Lord...."

All God needs in order to carry out His plans are people who put themselves in His hands with the complete humility and readiness of a servant. As her attitude shows, Mary was at the complete disposal of God's creative activity. She truly represents humanity, whose destiny she took upon herself.

The term "servant of the Lord" is not only an expression of humility, it is also a title of honour applied to those great servants in the history of salvation: Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets. Therefore, with these words Mary affirmed her own greatness, too.

Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.

Mary's words tell us how we must live out our role as Christians. It has always been considered that the best possible attitude anyone can have before God is expressed by these words. They speak both of a passive availability and of a readiness to act. Unfathomable emptiness of self is combined with a complete fullness.

Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.

Mary's destiny is sublime and awe-inspiring. But she is not the only one called by God to give life to Christ in herself. Every Christian (and that includes you) has a similar task, although we carry it out in a different way. We, too, must allow Christ to become incarnate in us, until we can repeat with St. Paul: "The life I live now is not my own, Christ is living in me" (Gal 2:20).

How can we do this? By welcoming the Word of God into our lives with the same readiness that Mary had: the Word that we hear announced to us, or that we come to know through reading Sacred Scripture, or through the liturgy of Advent and Christmas, or even through the sentence from Scriptures, like this one, which we receive each month with its commentary.

Let us be completely open to receive it, since we know that it is not the word of another human being, but the Word of God and thus it contains the presence of Christ. Let us receive Christ into ourselves through His Word, eager to put it immediately into practice, moment by moment.

If we do this, the world will once again see Christ passing through the streets of our modern cities; Christ in us, dressed like everyone else, working in offices, schools, everywhere, in the midst of people.

What is more, the world will see starting from Christ living in us, the spark of the Gospel revolution which transforms people and society, creating a world that is better, more humane, and more united.

Take courage! There is a magnificent, divine adventure awaiting us. Let's not miss this opportunity.

Chiara Lubich

 

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