Voluntary slavery

Photo: Janis Olson Photo: Janis Olson

Mary and her joyful submission

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)

After four years of bloody battles and more than half a million deaths, in December of 1865, the United States officially enacted the abolition of slavery.

Throughout history, human beings have always fought for their freedom; freedom is protected as an immeasurable treasure. What makes a woman like Mary consider herself blessed as a slave? Mary has experienced and understood the love of her Lord. In her short existence she has discovered that God perfects the intelligent will of his servants, making them discover where the permanent happiness is and thus be able to embrace it with all their strength.

Mary’s docility is not momentary but a disposition for the rest of her existence. She is ignorant of the divine surprises in the future, but always trusting in the love of the one to whom she has given her heart: the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. The God who is always faithful to his chosen people of which she is happily a part.

Surprise after surprise, Mary surrendered her will and her human intelligence to the love and wisdom of the Creator of everything and everyone. She surrendered to the mystery of becoming a virgin mother of the Son of God. She renounced the carnal love of Joseph to become the wife of the Spirit of God. She gave up her intelligence and heart every day for 30 years, to patiently and slowly watch grow the Emmanuel, the God with us, born of her tender and feminine womb. She enslaved her own Jewish faith to the wise intelligence of the one who prodigiously made the human brain, the one who always can and wants to perfect what seems impossible. She bowed down her will before the will of the almighty who gave his immaculate Son to the death on a cross, to save everyone who believes in the power of endless love that forgives everything. Mary knew how to chain her anxious human will to the Lord who took a risk when choosing those 12 fragile apprentices of the new universal love, as he had chosen her.

In each moment in which Mary knew how to become a slave to the will of God’s love, she was able to experience the endless joy of her spirit contemplating the greatness of her creator. The maker, almighty God who only accepts from us a joyful loving slavery that makes us free, as Jesus proclaims: “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)

Mary, who is the mother of all believers and from whose faith her son Jesus learned, is our model in all the circumstances of our earthly existence. Our intelligence and free will are the distinguishing characteristics that elevate us above any animal and allow us to tangibly manifest the presence of God in us.

Mary, as a woman of faith, knew that offering her will to the will of God was not just a matter of personal effort, or pure human discipline. She acknowledged the need to call upon the divine help, the help of the Holy Spirit of God. That divine help is what made her own will not be an obstacle to heavenly wisdom.

Mary risked all her existence and her future by enslaving her entire being before her creator. By taking this risk, she discovered that above all God is love and he perfects his docile servants in joy, freedom and peace. For the rest of her life Mary confirmed that God works wonders when his servants allow themselves to be guided by his wisdom, which always surpasses and widens the human horizons.

Mary’s perennial joy invites all of us, as men and women of faith, to trust like her, to persevere like her, and to serve like her in all the circumstances of our daily life: at home, at work and at rest. We have to trust like her, in the unceasing quest to perfect our humanity, our world, under the impulse and energy of the loving wisdom of the same God who loved Mary and continues to love us today.

Our loving slavery, like Mary’s, makes us completely free. That is the freedom we want to offer the world for all generations.

Read the Spanish version of this column.

Northwest Catholic - July/August 2019

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo

Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.

Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., es obispo auxiliar de Seattle y vicario para el ministerio hispano.

Website: www.seattlearchdiocese.org/Archdiocese/auxiliaries.aspx