I preached this morning. The point that stood out in my mind was listening to the Spirit. Our Lady was Blessed (divinized – she was carrying God in the flesh within her) – because she heard the Word and did it. That statement of Christ is huge. It is not important to be the Mother of God in the flesh, but rather, to be the Mother of God as in engendering God in you by hearing the Word and doing it, first by saying “Yes” and then by doing it. That is, answering the vocation.
At 82 (three weeks from completing 83 years) I can say that I don’t feel that it’s over answering the call to hear the Word and do it. Perhaps, these are even the most important days and years since I personally can’t do much. But I can want, and I can ask. The key might be to do what Francis is asking us: Discern. I quote from “Gaudete and Exsultate”:
“Certainly, spiritual discernment does not exclude existential, psychological, sociological or moral insights drawn from the human sciences. At the same time, it transcends them. Nor are the Church’s sound norms sufficient. We should always remember that discernment is a grace. Even though it includes reason and prudence, it goes beyond them, for it seeks a glimpse of that unique and mysterious plan that God has for each of us, which takes shape amid so many varied situations and limitations. It involves more than my temporal well-being, my satisfaction at having accomplished something useful, or even my desire for peace of mind. It has to do with the meaning of my life before the Father who knows and loves me, with the real purpose of my life, which nobody knows better than he. Ultimately, discernment leads to the wellspring of undying life: to know the Father, the only true God, and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 17:3). It requires no special abilities, nor is it only for the more intelligent or better educated. The Father readily reveals himself to the lowly (cf. Mt 11:25).
- The Lord speaks to us in a variety of ways, at work, through others and at every moment. Yet we simply cannot do without the silence of prolonged prayer, which enables us better to perceive God’s language, to interpret the real meaning of the inspirations we believe we have received, to calm our anxieties and to see the whole of our existence afresh in his own light. In this way, we allow the birth of a new synthesis that springs from a life inspired by the Spirit.
- Nonetheless, it is possible that, even in prayer itself, we could refuse to let ourselves be confronted by the freedom of the Spirit, who acts as he wills. We must remember that prayerful discernment must be born of a readiness to listen: to the Lord and to others, and to reality itself, which always challenges us in new ways. Only if we are prepared to listen, do we have the freedom to set aside our own partial or insufficient ideas, our usual habits and ways of seeing things. In this way, we become truly open to accepting a call that can shatter our security, but lead us to a better life. It is not enough that everything be calm and peaceful. God may be offering us something more, but in our comfortable inadvertence, we do not recognize it.”
The first thing the Virgin does after the Annunciation is get up and go to Ain Karim to serve Elizabeth. And it’s there that Elizabeth proclaims the truth of Mary – “Blessed is she who believed.
So, be silent, listen, then move. All of it is making the gift, and you find yourself confused with Christ Who is living your life.