HomeCommentaryLet it be done to me

Let it be done to me

On this feast day of the Queenship of Mary, instead of the readings for the day, I chose the Marian readings recommended for the feast.

With apologies to Paul McCartney, whose song LET IT BE became my inspiration for my homily on the memorial honoring Mary as Mother of the Church, today I propose to complete the Marian character of LET IT BE by turning it into LET IT BE DONE TO ME.

Our Gospel is about the vocation of Mary to be the Mother of the “Son of the Most High”. As in the narratives about the vocation of the prophets of the Old Testament, the call to do something for God is usually followed by a reaction of inadequacy on the part who is being commissioned, and further succeeded by an assurance and a sign. The closest parallel that I can think of is the call of Isaiah. The call comes to him in the form of a vision of God enthroned in his heavenly court. Isaiah sort of recoils and reacts to the invitation by expressing his unworthiness. He calls himself a “man of unclean lips”. This is followed by a gesture and a word of assurance—God touches his lips with a burning coal. Only then is he able to give a positive reply, “Here I am, send me”—a response that resembles Mary’s famous Fiat “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, LET IT BE DONE to me according to your word.”

We also know from Scriptures however, that not all the prophets immediately responded positively to God’s call. The most classic example is Jonah, who ran away from God’s call. Even when he found himself already on the shores of Nineveh, after the fish that swallowed him spewed him out right there, God’s call continued to be come across as an invitation–waiting for a free response. Even after Jonah had already responded, his struggle with his calling goes on. Every now and then, he expresses regret about even having said yes–especially after God withdrew his threat of punishment on Nineveh because the Ninevites had heeded Jonah’s prophetic word.

Jeremiah too has occasional outbursts with God, whenever he found himself in trouble for having heeded God’s call. In several instances, he laments, and is almost inclined to quit. Jeremiah, at one point described God’s word burning like fire in his bones; he felt he couldn’t endure it. The prophets were called to serve as God’s spokespersons, to communicate the word that has been entrusted to them.

The great difference with Mary, after her Fiat, is that the Word that God entrusts to her, unlike in the case of the prophets, does not remain as just a message waiting to be proclaimed. Rather, it takes flesh in Mary’s womb and becomes the incarnate Son of God. Unlike the prophetic word that invites Israel to be faithful to the covenant, the Word that becomes a human person in Mary’s womb becomes the very covenant. In her child, God and humankind become one person. It is Jesus himself, not a set of laws written on a stone tablet, that becomes our inseparable bond with God–thus giving a man like St. Paul the reason to say, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

Vocation is about a call to mission. It is not really just about what we want to do with our lives, even when our desire might indeed be consistent with God’s desire. It is rather about what God calls us to do for Him. It remains a call until it is heeded or responded to.

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They say there is no such thing as a “late vocation”; there’s only a late response. What about a no-response? Is it also possible? Can one live his whole life not knowing what he/she is really called to do? Yes, of course. And I’d consider that a rather tragic kind of life.

Only people who respond generously to God’s call like Mary did, can discover the immense power that God can effect through our lives, however weak and flawed we are. The mission is never just about what we can do, but what we can allow God to do through us. And with him, nothing at all is impossible.

Like Peter, we will often find ourselves feeling like falling on our knees and asking God to find somebody else, someone more qualified. But always, and also with some sense of humor, God will have a way of assuring us, “I came not to call the qualified; I came rather to qualify those whom I have called.”

“Let it be done to me” is a homily of Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan for the feast day of the Queenship of Mary on Saturday, 20th Week in Ordinary Time, August 22, 2020.

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