Mary, Extraordinary Evangelist

If we walk with Mary through Luke 1:26-39 from the Annunciation to the Visitation, we’ll see how Mary’s encounter with God’s messenger changed her life. Mary’s yes triggered a new level of God’s power in her through the Holy Spirit. She was completely open to his guidance in following God’s will.

Mary shows us how to fulfill our mission as evangelists. She said yes because she trusted God. She embraced his mission for her life and brought the presence of Jesus to the world through the power of the Holy Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit guiding us in every yes of surrender to God’s will. The more we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, the more power he gives us to follow God’s plan for us.

Overwhelmed with joy

Mary’s powerful encounter with Gabriel compelled her to witness. The Holy Spirit overwhelmed her with such joy she could only respond by telling those dearest to her what God had done in her – as the angel had directed her.

She immediately traveled to visit her cousin Elizabeth. By pondering her story on her journey of four or five days, Mary was ready to share it. The Holy Spirit prepared Elizabeth to receive good news.

Nothing is impossible with God

When Mary greeted Elizabeth, and before she could give her cousin the news of her own miraculous pregnancy, God announced it through the leap of John the Baptist in the womb of Elizabeth, because nothing is impossible with God. In the presence of Mary with Jesus in her womb, the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit.

As Mary gave the details of Gabriel’s announcement, the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit and her pregnancy, the angel’s visitation became more vivid, more powerful, and more real. Each time she relived the Annunciation scene Mary grew surer of her mission.

When we mull over an incredible event in our life, does the reality slowly sink in over time? We can see the advantages and disadvantages this big change in our life could bring. Finally, we come to acceptance of God’s will, even if the outcome is the opposite of what we thought was best for us. It’s human – and healthy – to question and ponder puzzling changes until we are blessed with the peace that God meant for us to have in the center of his will.

The power of questioning

During the time Mary stayed with her cousin, imagine what questions Elizabeth asked! In the same way, the reactions and questions of those like Elizabeth that the Holy Spirit prepared to receive Mary’s story made her encounter more powerful and real. When we tell our faith story that ends in God’s glory, we witness authentically. Others see the backstory of how we made the decision to follow God’s will and why we do it with so much joy.

We, too, can trust God and say yes to our calling as evangelists. Our authentic witness begins with our openness to the Holy Spirit. That vulnerability leads to a holy encounter that changes us so that our witness flows from our relationship with Jesus. Knowing and pondering our story clarifies it and fills us with joy that overflows to others. We can bring the presence of Jesus within us into the world with humility and joy, through the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Magnificat
Like Mary, when we share our story, we see how God intervened and steered us to the path he planned for our greatest happiness. Then our deepest beliefs naturally emerge in joyful praise — like Mary’s Magnificat:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior . . . The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46–47, 49)

With faith surging from an unshakable trust in God, Mary encountered God who transformed her into the Mother of God and the first evangelist, the first to share the presence of Jesus within her. Our trickle of faith can lead us to a God-moment and begin our transformation into an evangelist sparkling with that joy of Emmanuel, God our Savior with us, as Mary did. In her, we find the example of persistent faith to trust God, the courage to ask him questions, and the grace to commit our lives to him. He narrates our story to draw us closer to him and prepare us to share with those he places around us.

Every-day evangelists

As our model for becoming evangelists, Mary demonstrated the character traits we need of humility, obedience, authentic witness, joyful praise, and close relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Everything she did was a testimony of God’s love.

Mary was an extraordinary evangelist, filled with the Holy Spirit. We are called as every-day evangelists with the grace of the Holy Spirit, as she was.

Nancy Ward

Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward, author of Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story, was once a shy convert. She has spent decades writing about conversion, Christian community, and the Catholic faith. After earning a journalism degree, she worked for many years for the Texas Catholic (newspaper of the Diocese of Dallas) and the Archbishop Sheen Center for Evangelization, and later began her own editing service. An active member of the Catholic Writers Guild and a regular contributor to a number of high-profile Catholic publications online, she also has a busy blog on spirituality called Joy She’s a contributing author to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. Now, through her Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story workshops, retreats, book, and DVD, she shares her conversion story at Catholic parishes and conferences, equipping others to share their own stories.

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