--Luke 2:38, NAB
Allow me to steal a bit from my pastor's homily. I've heard the above verse dozens of times, sang it in the Magnificat in choir, and even made it my own prayer when faced with difficult decisions. Never, though, has it ever been put to me the way Monsignor did.
The most important part of this verse, he said, is the last sentence: Then the angel departed from her. Here Mary was, probably no more than fifteen or sixteen, betrothed to a man much older than her, but not yet married. What would you do if an angel showed up in your room and said you were going to be the mother of God? Probably not what Mary did, that's for sure.
Thankfully for all of us, Our Lady wasn't blindly accepting. That gives me a lot of peace--she asked Gabriel questions in confusion and doubt. Once her questions were answered, though, her heart was settled, and she gave the assent that would be our salvation. Without that Fiat, I shudder to think of where we would be.
The thing a lot of people--self included--tend to gloss over is that the angel left her. "Okay, you're pregnant with the Son of God now. See ya." Poof.
Suddenly, that miraculous moment was over, and Our Lady was plunged into the terrifying reality of what she had just done. She now had to ride out the rollercoaster of circumstances that comes with doing the will of God, including all the risks that came with it. Joseph could have left her. (I don't imagine most people would buy a miraculous conception as an excuse for being pregnant.) She could have been exiled--and indeed, the couple did leave. The old life she knew was gone. All she had was faith and the growing Divine within her.
It's not a life I don't think I could handle. Then again, God chose her, purifying her from the moment of her conception for that very purpose. This little fifteen-year-old was the Ark of the New Covenant! Her son, the Savior of the world, learned a carpenter's trade. Not exactly luxurious. Heck, she bounced around on the back of a donkey for three days at nine months pregnant. Her baby would be born in a dark, musty stable with even more donkeys for company. Some life.
I'm being lighthearted to try and paint for you the picture Monsignor did for us. On the outside, the Holy Family was about was ordinary and plain as it got. The simplicity of their lives and the enormity of their mission was, and still is, incredible.
Look at what God did with a girl younger than just about all of us, and all because she humbly gave herself over to complete trust in Him.
Where can we give our own fiat? If we all learned to say yes like Our Lady, imagine what we could accomplish...