“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.” – Lk. 1:38

Mary’s faith in today’s Gospel is most touching to me through her courageous surrender. She is courageous because she chooses to surrender even when she is afraid. The angel Gabriel recognizes her troubled spirit and encourages her not to be afraid. She surrenders, perhaps not understanding completely what the “plan” is, but with faith that God will be with her.

Both courage and surrender are concepts I struggle with understanding and living out faithfully. Sometimes what I think is courageous is actually brash and can be unnecessarily hurtful to others. Sometimes what I think is surrender is actually avoidance from doing the very thing God is calling me to do. I pray, “God, I desire to do as you would have me do, but right now I have no idea what that means.”  And then I realize: this is my surrender.

As I imagine what Mary must have been feeling in that moment of annunciation, I try to sit in the fear and tension she was experiencing. A young woman in the middle of a tense political climate, with uncertainties about her engagement, news about her barren cousin now with child, and now with a request that she help God come in another way into the world.

I can hardly begin to imagine the feelings that flooded through her. Yet, she was real with her apprehension. She didn’t try to minimize it or hide it or move away from it. The angel Gabriel also recognized her anxiety. Still, Mary chose to be a faithful servant of God. What grace!

May I learn a little more today about how to be real with my anxieties, invite God and God’s messengers to help me through them, and receive the grace of surrender nonetheless. May God accept my faithful surrender, as difficult as it may be to offer.

Vivian Valencia