As many of us in the UK are looking forward to celebrating Mother's Day this Sunday, our minds are focused on the remarkable things that our mothers have done for us and how they inspire us. Lots of us will be making our way around the shops this weekend to pick out that special gift and bunch of flowers to show our appreciation for the mother figures in our lives. In the midst of all this, let's take some time to reflect on lessons that we can learn from one of the most well-known female figures in the Bible, Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Taking a look specifically at Mary's reaction to the news that she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah, here's what we can learn from her.
It's ok to be afraid, at first
When Mary was greeted by the angel Gabriel she was struck with fear, "Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God,' (Luke 1:29-30). Many of us will be able to relate to being overcome with fear when we feel God asking us to do something or feel him at work in our lives. We can feel this way whether he calls us to travel to war torn countries to support and show solidarity with his people or share our testimony with a close friend. Mary teaches us that we shouldn't let fear paralyse us from accepting our calling.
No matter who you are the Lord can use you
Mary was an unmarried teenager from humble beginnings and God chose her to carry out one of the most significant tasks in the entire Bible. During the time that Mary was alive, women were not afforded equal status to men and there were severe consequences for a woman falling pregnant outside of marriage. Despite knowing this, Mary says yes to what God has called her to do. This not only gives us an insight into Mary's character but it also reveals to us God's character. Mary was aware of her status but this didn't cause her to reject the Lord's calling. We shouldn't worry about our social status because God calls all types of people to do his work.
Mary's response, "I am the Lord's servant...May your word to me be fulfilled," is fuelled by the third lesson that we can learn from her, her understanding that it is not your ability that matters to God, it is your availability. Sometimes when opportunities present themselves to us we can feel inadequate and question our suitability for the task but Mary's example teaches us that if we make ourselves available to God he will use us regardless of how equipped we feel ourselves to be.
Faith is central to Mary's story. It is her faith that empowers her to accept her calling against the backdrop of the possible ramifications of doing so. Speaking about what we can learn from Mary, in 2015 the Pope said: "The Gospel also shows us the truest reason for Mary's greatness and her blessedness: it is faith". This is one of the most inspiring aspects of Mary's character. If we truly trust and believe in God's power to deliver on his promises no matter how impossible they may seem, we too can be used by him.