Say “Yes!” to God
by Noel E. Bordador
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Don't be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
A few years ago, I met a homeless young man in the Philippines and we developed a good friendship. He goes around the city to scavenge for trash that he could sell as recyclables. What he does with his meager earnings is that he would buy food, not only for himself, but for other homeless people.
A few weeks ago, we met a few times to catch up and he told me that one of his dream now is to have a bicycle and a cart which he could use to haul his recyclable garbage. He is not dreaming about having big bucks, a house or a car. Just a bike and a cart.
Once I offered to send him to school to finish his college studies, but he declined for now, and strongly believes that God calls him to pick up trash from the streets of the city as part of his Christian and moral obligation to care for the environment, and also to care for the homeless by sharing whatever he earns. To serve God and others, he feels he does not need a college degree and in a sense he is right, for I see people with college degrees or even a higher education and they don’t lift a finger to help their suffering neighbors.
I see a deep spirituality in him and a deep sense of a call from God to be an instrument of goodness on earth. His lack of higher education, his poverty and homelessness is no bar to a pursuit of a holy calling and he dares to say “Yes!” to God’s invitation to be his servant. So he and I are saving money together to buy him his bike and cart.
In the Gospel today, the main character of the story is that of a humble, poor woman, Mary of Nazareth, who despite of her lowliness and poverty, received a call, an invitation from God. She received a mission from God to do good in the world by bearing in her womb and giving birth to the Son of God. There was nothing spectacular about Mary’s background. But her response is spectacular. She praises God who looked with favor even upon her humble origins and chose her to be the mother of the Savior of the world.
God would not have saved the world except through a lowly and humble woman. God needed someone to be the mother of his Son who would bring about the redemption of the world and it was a humble, poor woman who volunteered herself to the task. You might have some self-doubts whether or not God calls you to be an instrument of his love in the world because you feel your life is unamazing or unspectacular. But God calls everybody.
And God uses ordinary people to bring about redeeming goodness to the world. But he does not force people; he calls them to a mission by invitation. It is up to us to be like Mary to say “Yes!” to God’s invitation. What is not required of us is greatness or high education or wealth or power, but simply willingness to say “Yes!” to God.
What made Mary great was not anything about her background or status in life, but her courage and boldness to say “Yes!” to God’s invitation. Do you have the same courage to say “Yes!” to God? Do you have the same holy daring to say “Yes!” to God?
©2020 Noel E. Bordador
Noel Bordador is a queer Episcopal priest in the Philippines. He runs Nazareth House, a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality for persons with HIV/AIDS in Manila.
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