by Sister Amarachi Grace Ezeonu, SNDdeN
“How can this be …?” This is a very human question, often asked in challenging, confusing, or seemingly impossible situations. Mary’s experience at the Annunciation defies human imagination; hence her response is, “How can this be?” Though she must have had her fears and concerns about the implications of what was being asked of her, Mary nonetheless said ‘yes,’ to the unknown, with complete trust in Yahweh. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord,” she responded.
I often wonder why God asked for Mary’s consent to bring forth God’s Son through her. The answer is simple; God respects our free will, and would not force us to choose out of fear or obligation. However, in responding to God’s voice, we have the opportunity to participate in God’s Kingdom on earth. Mary’s open-heartedness in consenting to God’s will at the Annunciation changed the course of history. Hence, ‘Emmanuel, the Lord with us.’ This makes her blessed among all women.
With every generous act comes a reward. When we bless others in need of blessing, we become blessed in return. In September 2015, leaders from the 192 Member States of the United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that would ensure a better world for all by 2030. This transformative Global Agenda includes the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving quality education, provision of sufficient clean water and sanitation, gender equality, and striving to attain many other initiatives, by 2030. Like Mary, you might be wondering ‘How is this possible?’ It is possible to achieve these goals by 2030, if everyone—governments, private sector, non-governmental organizations, and individuals—act decisively. There is enough wealth in the world to eradicate poverty and end hunger, if people are willing to share. No one is too poor that she or he cannot do something.
The Lenten Season is a time for making choices. Sometimes, choices are not easy to make. It certainly was not easy for Mary, but she did. The Prophet Isaiah in the passage below reminds us what our Lenten observances should look like:
“Is not this the fast that I desire …? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?” (Is. 58:6-7)
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give and not to count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not to seek for rest;
To labor and not to ask for any reward,
but that of knowing that I do your will. (Ignatius Loyola)
- educate yourself on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- educate others
- commit to at least one of the goals