20 December, Sunday — To say yes or no?

4th Sunday of Advent

2 Sam 7:1-5,8-12,14,16
Rm 16:25-27

“I am the handmaid of the Lord,” said Mary, “let what you have said be done to me.”

It never fails to amaze me how much faith and trust Mary had in God when the angel Gabriel announced to her the Good News that she would be the Mother of Jesus Christ. Then, I remember that God spoke to Jeremiah and said, “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

In the Gospel today, we are taught that Mary’s yes and obedience to God is a virtue of humility that we should emulate. But in today’s society, we also learn that saying ‘yes’ is a sign of weakness or unassertiveness, and we may look like we are trying to ingratiate people when we say ‘yes’ too often, even when we already have too much on our plate.

I am sometimes faced with this dilemma in my life. For example, I often find it hard to say ‘no’ to people whom I love. Like saying ‘yes’ to my friends if they need my help in their revision for an upcoming test. Or saying ‘yes’ to my family members to do some household chores or spend time with them. Sometimes, this results in resentment and frustration, because I may already be overwhelmed with schoolwork and exam preparations.  But if I say ‘no’, I often feel bad because they asked me for my assistance, and it is not nice nor kind if I reject their plea for help.

But I discovered that we do not need to say ‘no’ to every single thing in life. Even Mary had her fair share of ‘no’s, although it was more of an implied interpretation of the Biblical passages. For instance, our Lady must have felt a lot of pain, agony and suffering in her heart when Simeon told her of the sword that would pierce her heart. But she said ‘no’ to the temptation to ask God to change His plans. She also said ‘no’ to gossip, for she did not tell anyone else about what happened during the annunciation, nor about her mission and her baby. Not even Saint Joseph was aware of all these until the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.

So, I have learnt, and I hope that we can learn, that we need to respond with a resounding “Yes!” to God’s plans, alongside with “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute. If there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise” (Phi 4:8). Instead, we should avoid “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Col 3:5).

And I also pray that if anyone is giving us more work to do than what we can handle, that God will grant us the grace to accept these tasks cheerfully and peacefully, and the strength to complete all these. For He will not give us more than what we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please give us the grace to say ‘Yes’ to your plans for us and accept them for whatever these are, as well as the grace to say ‘no’ to evil. Please also give us the strength and grace to handle whatever our fellow brothers and sisters have asked us to do. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for giving us Your Mother to teach us to say ‘yes’ to your Father’s plans and guide us to know when to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Amen.


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