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DOING THE FATHER’S WILL – Mary, Mother of God and God’s Servant

– FAUSTO GOMEZ OP

Mary is the Mother of God – and our Mother. She is God’s servant and does God’s will.

MARY, MOTHER OF GOD – Mary is the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God (cf. Lk 1:26-38). In the Immaculate Conception Shrine in Washington DC, there is a lovely statue of Mother and Child, presiding a side altar, with the inscription: More Mother than Queen.” I love it! Queen also, of course; but above all, Mother of Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Mary.

Our Lady is called Mother of God from the first centuries of Christianity. She was dogmatically declared Mother of God in the Council of Ephesus (431): “Theotokos,” that is, God’s Mother. Vatican II says that “Mary is the Mother of God and the Mother of the Redeemer, and, therefore, she surpasses all other creatures in heaven and on earth.” In the Church, “she is the highest after Christ and yet very close to us” (Lumen Gentiun, LG, 54).

The motherhood of Mary is the source of all her privileges and graces: she is conceived without original sin (she is the Immaculate Conception); she is taken up to heaven in body and soul (the Assumption of Mary); she is Virgin and Mother – the Mother of God.

MARY IS GOD’S SERVANT – Let us imagine the lovely scene of the Annunciation. Mary is praying. The Archangel Gabriel appears to her and tells her: “Rejoice… The Lord is with you… You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus…, Son of the Most High.” Mary asks the archangel: “How can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?” Gabriel answers her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you… and so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.” Mary said: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done according to your word(Lk 1:38), that is, may God’s will be done” (Lk 1:28-32, 38).

Throughout her life, the Mother of the Son of God serves God, does God’s will: obediently (let it be), humbly (God “has looked with favor on his lowly servant”Lk 1:48), lovingly (she hurries to bring Jesus to Elizabeth and serve her who is close to give birth to John the Baptist), and prayerfully (Mary meditates on everything happening around her Son Jesus).  The Mother of God, of the Redeemer – and of the redeemed, of all – is the closest to her Son, the disciple of disciples, suffering servant who is called in Christian tradition Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix – subordinate to Jesus. 

WE ARE GOD’S SERVANTS – As God’s servant, our Lady invites us all to be servants of God after Jesus, who is God’s Son and his servant: “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28).

As God’s servant, Jesus does the will of God always. He became man to do God’s will: “I always do what is pleasing to God” (Jn 8:29); “Not my will, but your will be done” (Lk 22:42). In his third temptation in the desert, Satan promises Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth if he would worship him. Jesus answers: “You shall worship God, and him alone you must serve” (Mt 4:10). Jesus is the Suffering Servant who suffers and dies for the salvation of the world – for the personal salvation of each one of us. Indeed, “Being in the form of God”…, Jesus “emptied himself taking the form of a servant”, and was obedient to the Father “even to accepting death, death on a cross” (Phil 2:6:8).

As followers of Christ, we are God’s servants (Mt 23:11), like Our Lady Mary. Our life, our ministry is a ministry of service to God, neighbors, and needy neighbor in particular. We are God’s creatures and therefore his servants. God “created us, he conserves us, he redeemed us, he has made us for himself” (J Aumann). Jesus said to the apostles – and tells us: “Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave” (Mt 20:26-27). As brothers and sisters we are servants in the Church, our Mother and Teacher: all members are servants and the authorities are servant-leaders, and the Pope is servant of servants of God – servus servorum Dei. At times, our norm and our practice do not coincide.

THE SERVANT DOES GOD’S WILL – Jesus tells us that we must do the will of the Father in heaven (Mt 6:10). Good servants of God do – after Jesus and Mary – the will of God. What does it mean to do the will of God, to say like Mary “fiat, let it be”?

To do God’s will means “conformity to the will of God” which “consists in a loving, total and intimate submission and harmony of our will with the will of God in everything he disposes or permits in our regard“ (Aumann). At the Last Supper, Jesus washes the feet of the apostles. Washing the feet is the task of a servant, of a slave (cf. Jn 13:1-15).

Doing the will of God as servants entails – as Our Lady shows us well – obedience, humility, love and prayer. We have to be obedient, that is do the will of God and be able to say – like Mary – “fiat, let it be.”

To do the will of God, we must be humble. “The greatest among you, Jesus says, must be your servant. Anyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be raised up” (Mt 23:11-12).  Without God’s grace and love, we are nothing: God is all – todo. We are nothing – nada. God says to St. Catherine: “I am He-Who-Is, You are she who is not.”

GOD’S SERVANT LOVES WELL – “‘Your will be done’ can be said truly in perfect love and trust” (W Barclay). To do the will of God as his servants we need, above all, to love with God’s love. Only love urges us to get out of ourselves, to empty ourselves, to practice un-selfing, to love God and neighbor, to share with others, and to forgive always (cf. Mt 8:21-35).  St. Paul invites us: “Through love become servants to one another” (Gal 5:13).

As members of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Community of Disciples, we have to give to the world besides the witnessing of justice (the main role of the State) “the service of love” which the world also needs: a love that helps us “see with the eyes of Christ and give to others the look of love” (Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, DCE). Pope Francis asks us that when we give something to the poor we should look to their eyes – with compassion. As servants of God, of Christ in the Holy Spirit, we have to serve others with merciful love every day of our life – by giving something of ourselves to our neighbors:  a serene smile, a kind word, a silent presence, a warm greeting, a humble look, a word of gratitude, or a tear of sorrow. As servants who are children of God, we repeat often – like a mantra: “Thank you, Lord; sorry Lord; I love you Lord.”

To do God’s will as servants, we need to pray. We believe in God, hope in him and love him and, therefore, pray: faith, hope and love pray! Jesus tells us: “Pray always and never lose heart” (Lk 18:1). As servants and children of God – and as sinners-, we have to pray always. What is the world’s greatest prayer? Someone answers: “The world’s greatest prayer is ‘your will be done” (W Barclay).  We need to pray for God’s grace to be able to obey him, be humble and merciful. We ought to pray to discern God’s will for us in every situation. We pray in the Our Father: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The will of God is not only worship, but worship and justice; not merely prayer, but prayer and compassion. Jesus says: “Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven , but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21).

The will of our Father for us is service to him through our vocation. We are told that when Joan of Arc came to know that she had a short time to live, she prayed to God: “I shall only last a year; use me as you can” (Cf. W. Barclay, In Lk 1:39-45). Jesus tells us that we are useless servants: we have just done no more than our duty (cf. Lk 17:10). Certainly, with our “work of service” (II Cor 6:3), “we can be more useful and effective when we realize that we are useless before the Lord” (S Pinckaers). Rabindranath Tagore writes: “I was sleeping and dreamed that life was joyful; I woke up and saw that life was service; I began to serve and saw that serving was joy.” Doing God’s will as his servants permeates our life with unspeakable joy – with spiritual joy.

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