Some wise person said that: ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. After hearing today’s gospel, we can appreciate that the journey of salvation history has been a very long one—and it all started with Abraham. When God told Abraham to leave his home for a distant land, he was already seventy-five years old. And yet because he obeyed God, Abraham became the father of many nations.
Just like Abraham, Our Lady was chosen by God and invited to make an act of faith. The angel Gabriel told Mary that she was to be mother of the Messiah. Now Our Lady could have asked a million questions, but instead she simply said: “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). And that’s the main reason we celebrate Our Lady’s birthday today: not only because she is Our Lord’s mother but because of her obedience. Thanks to her yes, her acceptance of God’s will for her, God’s plan unfolded as it did, and we can all now know the unending joy of the resurrection.
In each of our lives, there are times when God asks us to do something we may not fully understand. Like Abraham and Mary and Joseph, and Saint Dominic we may not know exactly what’s in store for us as our lives open up. For example, when we enter the novitiate we have no idea how our religious life will pan out and develop. When I was clothed a novice 28 years ago today, I never knew I would study in Rome, or spend 7 years in the United States, or be here now in the glorious New Forest. We can all tot up the years in our heads and yet none of us can know for sure what the future holds for us and how our religious lives will grow and develop. But then we don’t have to. We have God’s guarantee that as long as we walk with him, our obedience will bear much fruit (John 15:5). We may not know right away how that fruit will look, but we can be sure it will be good. When we surrender ourselves to God, we can also surrender our worries and our concerns, and we can let him take care of the details. When we enter the community, we don’t bring along with us our own agenda and schedule. All we have to do is live each day as it comes.
No matter how good a start we make to any of our endeavours, be it as a religious, or a priest, or a teacher or a married person, God always has something more in store for us. He is, as someone said the God of surprises. And this is why today’s feast is so important. We need to follow Our Lady’s example and be generous in the giving of ourselves to God. We need to be humble and generous in accepting his will in our lives. We must commit ourselves to do whatever he asks of us. And we should always bear in mind what one small yes can accomplish. If we act in trust and faith, we will experience God’s power moving in our lives, and then we will become salt and light to the world.