strong-treeShe [Mary] was poor and she was known to God alone, and her ‘yes’ will change everything that is to follow.…Mary is almost certainly poor, as was everyone in Nazareth. She is a village girl, carrying water with the others from the town well, going to the market, making use of the village oven, most probably, making her plans for her future with Joseph….

On a given day, when Mary is busy with her ordinary activities, Gabriel comes into her life with God’s idea. Mary is perplexed, confused, and quite willing to ask the equivalent of “Why me?” Whatever plans she had had for that day, they are no more….

God sends to ask if she might be willing to take on this task. To sit with that is to be as confused as Mary must have been. In a whirl of doubts and disclaimers, one thing is clear. If this is what God might want, she is willing to be a part of it. “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Her “yes” is for no plan or idea of her own. It is simply for what God might want her to do. How complex and how selfless is her openness.

Mary is ready to trust God with the details, ready to launch into the darkness of what has never happened before, ready to go on without a contract or a plan of daily details for raising the Son of God….

She is a strong woman, so much sturdier than the wispy virgins of art, so much more real than the royalty with which the Renaissance painters endowed her. She wore no crown or any clothing different from the plain tunics of all women. She is one of us, the most glowing example of a truly liberated woman whose God waited upon her word.

Excerpt from Carol M. Perry, SU, Among Women: Lives of Challenge, Courage and Faith in Biblical Times, 2016, pp. 42-47, used by permission of the author.

Sister Carol M. Perry, a Sister of St. Ursula, is the Resident Bible Scholar at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City and the author of several books, including Waiting for Our Souls to Catch Up, named one of AARP’s “Best Books of 2014.”