In a remarkable and evocative homily about Mary's response to the angel Gabriel, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, an 11th century Benedictine and reformer, speaks for us all in urging Mary to say yes to God and yes to us. Bernard asks Mary:
Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.(1)Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Bernard's challenge to Mary is actually addressed to all of us. Advent is not a time to dally or delay, not a time for virginal simplicity. It is a time to say yes without fear. God needs to be born in us again today, not tomorrow or in the New Year. God depends upon us in our weakness, fear and sin to accept his hand and assurance that with God all things are possible. Unless we ask for the grace of going beyond our imagination, we cannot hope to arise, hasten and be open. With God all these actions are not only possible but necessary and Mary's yes assures us of this. May it be done to us according to your word!
Today, even if you are living in darkness, say Yes to God.
What or who has helped you say yes to God?