On this day, the perfect disciple of the Christ was born, our model of holy obedience became one of us.
Human obedience is and may never be ideal. Thinking and acting on our own, independent of socially-constructed baselines, is instrumental to our growth and development. Our life on earth is a self-correcting continuum of myriad experiences in curiosity and self-discovery, experimentation, wise and foolish choices and decisions which as a whole, forms our maturated framework of judgment. The satiation of curiosity is thus not inconsequential, and so allowing ourselves to be driven by a responsible curiosity consists of a prudent exercise of free-will that will not only result in the improvement of judgment, but also in the performance of actions in the service of the common good.
But a responsible curiosity and a prudent exercise of free-will cannot go unguided. It must be anchored at least to the single baseline that will fundamentally achieve the growth and development of all: I simply cannot and should not be permitted to do anything – even if it can be firmly established that it is for my benefit – which will directly or indirectly destroy another. If we insist of being and acting free for its own sake yet devoid of any moral directions or worse, of well-prepared consciences, we become delinquent rebels, a liability to society and to ourselves.
To Mary, our blessed Mother, belongs the pivotal role in our daily spiritual struggle of balancing curiosity and obedience, freedom and accountability, individual gains and social responsibility. Though divinely inspired in uttering in the Magnificat the rights of the just, she became unlike the religious elders of her time, the epitome of an authentic righteousness beholden only to the Spirit of justice and love. She is admonishing us to fight systemic oppression through a witness of faithful following of the God of compassion and liberation, which began in her monumental fiat. She is the exemplar of an equilibrium between how free we can become, and how dutiful we must be in order to remain free.
Her unwavering obedience emanated from a humble spirit who trusts in spite of weaknesses. From the moments of her immaculate conception and birth, we believe she understood with her heart what she could not comprehend with her mind. Through the many tumultuous events in her life, she quietly yielded to the Mystery what she could not fathom nor explain. She may have endured the joys, sorrows and glory of the mother of a revered yet feared prophet, yet she is steadfast in the conviction that our Lord always knew better. Mary therefore exemplified genuine discipleship to and imitation of the Christ: a renewal founded upon a loving surrender of the self, manifested in obedience for the attainment of a responsible freedom, justice and peace.
May we pray for our Mama to engender in us the resolve to become disciples worthy of the kingdom of her Son, and of her eternal reward.
O Mother of our Lord, may we begin to become true followers of Christ. May we begin to explore the depth of the love of God for us, and to love him through an intimate, lifelong relationship founded on trust and total surrender to his will, even if at times we cannot fully understand it.
May we express our love in a simple yet extraordinary way in the ordinary circumstances of daily life like you, through fervent and heartfelt prayer, proper reception of his divine grace in the sacraments, careful observance of his teachings and commandments, and perseverance in charity through a quiet, patient and humble service of those in need or those who cannot or will not compensate us in return.
To this end, we commit our lives until death. Amen.
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
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