This week we celebrate the Annunciation, moved from its usual commemoration on March 25th to March 31st due to our extraordinarily early Easter. To reflect on Mary’s visit from the angel Gabriel is to reflect on the power of a mother’s “yes.” She was a young woman who had no idea where her “yes” would lead her. She could not envision the trip to Bethlehem or giving birth among the animals. She could not hear the words of Simeon in the temple, “A sword will pierce her heart.” She could not imagine fleeing to Egypt in order to save the life of her child, or the fear of thinking her child was lost as she and Joseph searched the streets of Jerusalem frantically for him. In her worst nightmares, she could not have pictured the pain of the cross. In her wildest dreams, she could not have experienced the glory of the Resurrection. And yet, she said “yes.” She said “yes” because she knew it was God’s will and she was a faithful Jewish woman who lived to do God’s will.
In a similar, although certainly not so dramatic fashion, each mother says “yes” to the gift of an unborn child. While we generally get the news from a home pregnancy test or a doctor rather than an angel, we each say “yes” to an unknown future. We can’t even imagine the unique road that each child will travel and that we will journey with him or her. We say “yes” to both the joys and pains of motherhood. We say “yes” to first words and first steps and loving hugs and graduations and weddings. We also say “yes” to sleepless nights and temper tantrums and illness and teenage angst. We say “yes” to loving even when we don’t actually like our children. We say “yes” to loving even when our children reject us.
Mary’s “yes” allowed salvation to come to the world. Our “yes” also changes the course of the world. Each child leaves an indelible mark on our own lives and the lives of all those that they will touch. An unborn child comes from God with a purpose to fulfill, an irreplaceable role to play in history.
Mary’s life was changed forever by her “yes.” In a moment, she became an unwed pregnant woman, a fate punishable by death in the world in which she lived. But she trusted that God had a plan; that somehow it would all work out for good. We can learn so much from Mary’s trust. We need to trust in God even when our parenting journey is filled with difficulty, even on days we don’t know how we are possibly going to make it through the day. We need to remember that our children are God’s children first. God is with us to help us bring them up. We need to trust that God has a plan for both our children and for us.
Indeed, a mother’s “yes” is a powerful affirmation. This week, let us be thankful for Mary’s “yes” as well as the “yes” of each mother since the beginning of time. Let us be thankful for both the invitation to motherhood and the gift of our children. Let us rejoice at being able to be part of God’s great creative plan.