The idea that blind obedience could be liberating seems like a total paradox. Whenever we make decisions, we often weigh the costs. The pros, the cons, the potential financial consequences, etc. And yet, the virtue of blind obedience asks us to follow God’s will without counting the cost.
Mary’s example of blind obedience is seen in the Annunciation. What’s interesting though, is that she still asked questions about bearing the Son of God. When Zechariah asked Gabriel how he and Elizabeth could conceive, the angel made him unable to talk until John’s birth. In contrast, Mary was not punished for her inquiry. She was allowed to ask questions, yet she didn’t “count the cost” the way we would. Why is that?
Putting aside the fact that Mary was born without original sin, 1 Samuel 16:7 comes to mind: “But the Lord said to Samuel: Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart.”
Perhaps the Lord looked into Mary’s heart and recognized that she was in need of understanding before she could accept the task that He has asked of her. In his Catholicism series, Bishop Robert Barron describes the Annunciation as Mary being “courted by the heavenly messenger.” Mary’s act of obedience is contrasted with Eve’s first sin, the first act of disobedience.
The original sin often brings up a question: Why did God make the fruit forbidden in the first place? Adam and Eve had access to everything in the Garden of Eden, which meant that they could’ve eaten anything they wanted. According to Bishop Barron, “God forbade the eating of that particular tree...because He wants us to fall in love with Him.”
Falling in love requires surrendering your pride, your ego, your desires for the happiness of your beloved. By no means does it mean that either God or your significant other will dominate you. When we fall in love with God or with any one person, we do so with our freedom, integrity, and intellect intact. We also do so with a leap of faith, an act of letting go and letting ourselves fall.
Mary was entering into being the Mother of God with her eyes open. She still had a lot of things to consider, of course, but she stopped counting the cost once she knew how she would conceive the Christ child and learned that her cousin had a similar miraculous experience. This is why she says “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to thy word.” Any lingering questions she had were put aside in this act of surrender.
A song that I think captures the idea of blind obedience is this song from Hillary Scott called “Thy Will”. The song describes staying faithful in spite of the struggles in life. Falling in love in general is scary enough, but falling in love with God can be outright terrifying because we are surrendering ourselves to someone we can’t even see and putting aside our own egos, our desires, our doubts so that He can work His will through us. It’s a leap of faith, for certain, but God gives us the wings to fly.
Fall in love with God today, my dear sisters in Christ. Take that leap of faith and don’t look down. He is with you.
Reflect: Are you the kind of person who makes pro/con lists before making a decision or are you more impulsive?
What do you think is the difference between surrendering to God and doing something crazy because “You only live once (YOLO)”?
Act: If you have any lingering doubts or questions about a situation, surrender it all to God. My favorite prayer of surrender is one by Brother Charles de Focauld:
“Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me; and in all your creatures -I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul: I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.”