Annunciation by Vasily Surikov
Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
May it be done to me according to your word.
Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S.
With these words, the great mystery of the Incarnation began. Mary trusting in God, and in Gabriel’s message, gave her “fiat,” “Let it be.” With those words, Mary said “yes” to the purpose for which she had been uniquely and wonderfully made.
While Mary was, in her person, unique, her story is in a sense the story of every human being. You and I are each uniquely and wonderfully made for some divine purpose. While we may never be visited by an angel delivering God’s message to us, each of us is asked to give our fiat, our yes to God’s plan for us.
Yes, of course, I mean this in the grand sense of discovering and saying yes to the state of life for which God made us. But I do not simply mean that. We are charged with giving flesh in myriad ways to the one whose birth we are preparing to celebrate. We are called to make Christ’s presence in the world real and tangible in every moment of our lives.
Mary’s fiat wasn’t limited to that brief encounter with Gabriel. She will repeat it as she journeys to Bethlehem, and later flees into Egypt. She will repeat it as she searches for her lost son, and urges him to help out some embarrassed newlyweds. She will repeat it as she watches him be tortured, and as she lays him in the tomb. May’s yes was in fact a litany, repeated throughout her life.
So too for us. The one whose birth we are preparing to celebrate asks to take flesh in us. His request is not simply a once-for-all sort of thing, but rather is repeated many times each day. He will ask us to give flesh to his patience with difficult people, and to care for the poor. He will ask us to look lovingly at those with whom we disagree, and to speak out for those who have no voice. He will ask us extend a helping hand to those we’d rather not know, and to love our enemies.
It is easy to say yes to God when the call is to something we want to do, or something that brings us a certain amount of personal satisfaction. But God’s call is bigger than that. He calls us to difficulty or, as Fr. Dave Kelly likes to say, “into the muck and the mess.” But this is the mystery of the Incarnation. God came into the muck and the mess of our lives, but he needed Mary’s yes. God continues to enter into our world, but he needs our yes.
Where does the Lord want me to be his presence?
Where have I been withholding my yes?
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Originally from Alameda, Calif., Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S., served for a number of years at St. Agnes Parish in Los Angeles. He is now the vocation director of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.