|Fra Filippo Lippi, Annunciation|
The surrender that is asked of us includes complete and absolute trust; it must be like Our Lady's surrender, without condition and without reservation.In this section Caryll Houselander refers repeatedly to Mary as a child, and says she could not have been more than 14. I have no idea whether or not that is an accurate statement, or whether or not she would have been thought a child in that time and place, but sinless as she was, she certainly had the mind and heart of a child. She was, indeed, as she was when she had, "...just come from God's hand." The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that only someone very young could have responded to Gabriel as she did. It had to be someone who had never been betrayed or seen real corruption who could be brave enough to offer that total surrender.
"Be it done unto me according to thy word" seems a very bold prayer indeed in view of the words we know God has uttered. It would be easier to sacrifice some big thing to God, to impose some hard rule upon ourselves, than to say, "Do what you like with me."At the heart of this surrender is trust, trust in the only One whom we have any reason to trust. And yet, in practice Our Lord is far down on the list of those or those things in which we place our trust. In our everyday lives we trust in a hundred different things: our car, elevators (ugh), our intellect, our friends, too many to enumerate, all of which may fail us without notice. And then, of course, Miss Houselander mentions money. Who of us does that think that just a bit more money could make us more secure?
Money means the safest, swiftest travelling, the speediest spoken or written word (Could she even have imagined how swifly our words travel now?), the warmest clothing, the best medical aid.
Small wonder is it that gradually, without know it, we have come to trust more in money than in God.
From his earliest childhood the modern man is brought up to value money above all else and even to value himself by his capacity for getting it.
It is hardly surprising, when we think of all that money has come to mean to men, that if the breadwinner suddenly changes his mind and sets some other thing higher, he is thought to be a traitor in his own home.And yet, every day now we see images of people, who were formerly secure in comfortable lives and with enough money, trudging in long, exhausted lines of refugees, leaving behind all the things they trusted in and on their way to who knows where?
What does it take for us to make that great leap of faith into the heart of Him who is the only safe refuge? It's understandable, of course, when we look at the lives of those who have made that leap. From the outside it looks pretty terrifying.
"Be it done unto me according to thy word" surrenders yourself and all that is dear to you to God, and the trust which it implies does not mean trusting God to look after you and yours, to keep you and them in health and prosperity and honor.
It means much more, it means trusting that whatever God does with you and with yours is the act of an infinitely loving Father.It seems impossible to choose this kind of vulnerability, and yet, it is only on the other side of that leap that we can be really peaceful, that we can see that every loss is a gift and every pain is the coin of the realm, that we can look into the future without fear.
All of the posts in this series can be found by clicking HERE.
Unfortunately they are in reverse order, so you have to scroll down to get to the beginning.
P.S. I know you're out there. I would love to hear from you.