Today is Mary’s Sunday. We rightly honor Mary for her unique role as mother of Jesus – the one most intimate with our Lord, who bore his body and suffered for his birth. In the Orthodox churches, she is called “Christotokos” – Christ-bearer – or even “Theotokos” – God-bearer.
Although Mary’s role is unique, she is not the only one whom God calls to bear Christ in the world. God asks that of us all. As God invests God’s self in human form, we become God’s instruments, God’s tools, God’s media in the world. Saint Teresa of Avila famously said,
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Christ has no body now but yours.”
That’s a tall order – scary even. If we are Christians, then people look at us as representatives of Jesus. What we say and do reflects on Jesus. That’s why it’s so disturbing these days when people who self-identify as Christians say and do things that are contrary to Jesus’ teachings.
In today’s American society, fear has become a huge driver of behavior. Some preach that we should fear those who are different from us – people who look different, or come from another country. Some say that we all need guns to defend ourselves from all the perils of life. But Jesus said repeatedly, “Do not be afraid!” A life lived out of fear is wretched, and can cause huge damage to our human community.
When the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary,” Mary accepted his words, and accepted the holy mission Gabriel came to announce to her. Mary did not fear the future, the opinions of other people. She said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord. Let it be with me according to your word.” The world would be a much better place if all of us could go and do likewise. JBM