When I was in college, I read Jaroslav Pelikan’s Mary Through the Centuries. Although I had known all this since childhood, it was the first time that I read a rational argument based on the contradiction between Eve and Mary.

Tradition holds that a “no” to God, uttered by a woman, doomed humanity. We also hold that a “yes” to God, uttered by a woman, saved humanity. 

How important then is woman? And how important then is every single one of our answers to God?

Yes, all of salvation history hinged on Mary’s answer to God at the Annunciation. Yes, Mary, by virtue of her Immaculate Conception had the unique privilege of already having been saved by the Son she was agreeing to carry. But she was human. It was a decision. 

Our decisions will never be like that. But they give us a chance to say yes or no to God throughout the day, throughout our lives. 

Am I more like Mary or like Eve? 

I have never turned away from God for no reason. I always have reasons for my sins, for my “no.” But then, didn’t Eve have reasons? The serpent told me to, I didn’t think you’d find out, Adam did it too! Not reasons to turn away from God.

And didn’t Mary have reasons? Wouldn’t Mary’s life have been easier if she had said “ugh this really isn’t a good time,” to God? Certainly nothing in my life compares to having to agree to be essentially a single mother in 1st century Palestine and then watch my baby die on the cross for humanity. 

I’m selfish. I yell at my kids when I get frustrated. I have a reason- they’re misbehaving or I’m tired or I’ve had a long day. I am mean to my husband. I have a reason- he said something insensitive, I’m tired. I say no to God in a myriad of ways as He tries to work in my life. I always have reasons. Are they reasons good enough? Sometimes. Often not. Often I’m just selfish. 

Am I more like Eve or like Mary?

I want to do what I want when I want. I pay attention to all the big stuff, shouldn’t my life be easy? Eve’s no says yes, it should be. God wants you to be happy all the time. Mary’s yes says no. God doesn’t want us to be happy in this world necessarily. He wants us to be happy with him in heaven forever. That requires sacrifice. 

Our Lady, help me to be more like you. 

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