March 25 marks the date that the Catholic Church and many other Christians commemorate the Annunciation of Mary. This is when we recognize the momentous moment Mary accepted the invitation from the angel Gabriel to become the mother of God. Through the “yes” of a teenage girl in the backwaters of Galilee 2,000 years ago, God became one of us and saved us from ourselves.
As we look around at our broken world, even the non-religious can see that things are not as they should be. God used Mary to begin rebuilding his kingdom here on earth, and so we can confidently look to her example in how we can begin repairing the brokenness permeating our culture today.
1. God Uses the Simple and Seemingly Insignificant
Some might say a girl like Mary from so long ago in a place like Galilee is irrelevant. In order to fix American society, we need further advances in technology and people in power who know what they are doing. The solution, however, is much more simple.
What we need is to recover the original blueprint for the human person. This blueprint is found in Mary. Yes, the teenager from the Middle East who lived two millennia ago is the model for the revival of the future. In fact, her apparent irrelevance today would not have been much different from her seemingly unimportant life in her own time. That is how God works: he uses the seemingly insignificant to change the world. He rebuilds by using the simple.
So, performing the simple things with intentionality, virtue, and perseverance (like Mary) means that we need to have an acute awareness of how we can do the simple things better. Mary’s witness shows us that sacrificing for our family is the most simple but powerful thing we can do.
2. The Family Unit Is the Most Powerful Human Entity
In a homily from 1986, Pope St. John Paul II famously said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.” The pope knew the sociological fact that the most powerful and impactful social structure in any culture is not the government, it is the family.
The way adults parent and love each other in marriage determines the type of children they raise and the manner in which those children will one day love their own spouses and children. It seems too simple, but fixing the family will fix our broken culture.
3. Put God First in Your Marriage
All families begin with the love of a man and a woman. Unfortunately, more than 40 percent of marriages end in divorce in the United States. America has also changed what marriage means, stressing the fact that this is a legal contract in which two people share their assets and feelings with one another instead of a relationship of permanent and faithful love that reflects God’s unconditional and fruitful love for us.
Typically, the love, or lack of love, shown between husband and wife trickles down to how their children give and receive love. Mary and Joseph show us that nothing is more important for a fruitful marriage than placing God first. Despite the unknowns and the public ridicule, they remained faithful to one another because of their relationship with
God. Studies even show that marriages that are built upon two individuals with strong faith are less likely to end in divorce. They answer to a higher power outside of themselves and their own flawed hearts.
Mary conceived a child, which was not her husband’s (clearly, because they were not yet living together — Matthew 1:18) but Joseph was able to trust that he had remained faithful even though it took him a little time. What convinced him? He prayed, proving what Dr. Wendy Patrick noted for Psychology Today: “Praying couples show more relational satisfaction and less infidelity.” Faith makes marriages, and therefore families, stronger.
4. Take Your Kids to Church
Mary and Joseph would have taken Jesus to temple at least three times a year for the annual Jewish festivals (not counting the times they would go to synagogue). Faith not only strengthens marriages but allows the whole family to witness how sacrificial love ought to rule one’s life.
Mary Rose Kulczak noted in another Federalist article, “If You Think Your Kids are Unhappy, Take them to Church.” Keeping God in our children’s lives is the best thing we can do for their health and happiness.
Today, too many people look at the topic of God and religion as irrelevant. The irony is, focusing on His truth and His way is the most simple but most powerful way to rebuild our culture. We see the answer in Mary’s life. Her entire focus was on God and family. May we make this commitment as well, so that our culture can be filled with people who are truly alive.