With Jesus, Mary as guides, how are we answering God’s call to serve?

Published: March 24, 2007

By Betsy Wiederkehr Huss

I recently read the book “Each Little Bird That Sings” by Deborah Wiles, about a family who runs a small, southern town’s funeral home. So, yes, death is mentioned quite a lot and dealt with respectfully and humbly. The family’s motto was “We live to serve.”

During Lent, this brought to mind Jesus’ reason for being among us as described in Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45 and Luke 12:27. Jesus came to serve us and God the Father. That’s what his life, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven are all about. Mary, Jesus’ mother, also answered the call from God to serve. In Luke 1:26-38, the angel Gabriel was sent to Nazareth to tell Mary she had found favor with God and would bear a son. Not just any son mind you, this young teenager was told her son would be the great, holy, Son of the Most High, the Son of God.

She questioned (wouldn’t we all), “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Gabriel’s answer from God to her was, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” I think I would have said something like, “Oh sure, why didn’t you say that in the first place. It’s as clear as mud to me what’s supposed to happen and why.”

Aren’t you glad Gabriel came to Mary because her response was, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary was one of many who have answered God’s call as it says in the Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 40:7-11) for the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” Mary, and others, have heard not only with their ears, but even more profoundly with their hearts.

They responded with their lives to the call from God to serve. We also are called by God, to be obedient, to have his law within our hearts, to delight in doing his will, to live justly, to tell of his faithfulness and grace. We too are to serve. Servants do the “hard” work, the work others don’t or won’t do. Servants deal with “messy” things in life. Being someone’s servant isn’t usually something most people would jump at the opportunity to do.

Yet, throughout the Bible and history, we have been exposed to people who have done just that, seen servanthood as an opportunity not for themselves but for God’s kingdom to come to earth. Think of Noah, Paul, Harriet Tubman, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa.

Think of that person you know who has served in such a way as to bring the kingdom of God to you. In the book mentioned earlier, a character, Uncle Edisto, shares much wisdom with those around him. One such tidbit is, “Open your arms to life. Let it strut into your heart in all its messy glory!” That’s what servants do — open themselves to the life God has for them “in all its messy glory!” That’s what Jesus, Mary and countless others have done. What a glorious life one can have with God by answering his call with, “Yes, I come to do your will.” How are you answering God’s call?

Betsy Wiederkehr Huss, a member of Blessed Sacrament Church in Jonesboro, has a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.