The Importance of a simple “Yes”
Mary and Joseph's agreement to God's will for their lives brought the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.
I am the Lord's maid, ready to serve. Let it be to me just as you say. Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38
Two of the simplest and easiest words to say in the English language are also two of the most powerful – Yes and No. Infants and toddlers learn these words, know the power behind their use if not the meaning, and speak them with conviction. Ever seen a two-year old tell his mother “No!” There is much negative strength and conviction in the two letters by meaning, “I oppose your last actions or statements.” And upon hearing “No!” from the two-year old, a mother might likely respond with equal or increased strength, opposition, and conviction, “Don’t you tell me ‘No!’ young man!” Thus, the word No is strong, willful conviction in opposition to a stated position or request.
“Yes,” however, is a word of willing agreement, although it often won’t carry the same stomp of a foot and clenched fist of a “No!” Nor does a “Yes” doesn’t exhaust itself in maintaining the determined negative stance of “No!” The willing agreement of the “Yes” matures and grows and increases in conviction and hope in an environment of faith.
Mary and Joseph found themselves in a situation where the answer of each was either “Yes” or “No.” There was no “Maybe” or “Can I get back to you on this?” Either they had to willing agree to a request or oppose it.
Matthew’s Gospel opens with these lines, “This is the story of the birth of the Messiah. Mary his mother was betrothed to Joseph; before their marriage she found that she was with child by the Holy Spirit.” We know that the story continues that Joseph is an honorable man, who, not wanting to publicly shame Mary for her infidelity, plans to quietly release her from their marriage agreement. In effect Joseph was saying “No” to Mary and their marriage. In a dream he encounters an angel who gives Joseph and different perspective of Mary’s pregnancy. “It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child…she will bear a son; and you shall give him the name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” To this revelation, Joseph said “Yes” by his actions to the Holy Spirit, to the angel, to Mary, to his son Jesus, and to the salvation of the earth.
We learn in Luke’s Gospel that some months earlier Mary too had a visitation from an angel who declare that “God has been gracious to you; you shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall give him the name Jesus. He will be great; he will bear the title ‘Son of the Most High’; the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David, and he will be king over the house of Jacob; his reign shall never end.” Unmarried and lacking a husband, Mary knows that she cannot be naturally with child, “How can this be since I have no husband?” The angel assures her that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her conception. To this assurance Mary agrees to what will happen to her with, “I am the Lord’s servant; as you have spoken, so be it.” What a resounding “Yes!”
For two thousand years myriads of generations around the world owe their own lives to two simple people who agreed with the good news they heard and simply said, “Yes” to God.
Holy Spirit, what is it in my world where you are need my permission, my “Yes,” in order for “your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven”? Teach me the grace of saying “Yes” to you.