Who Was the First Christian? A Teenager?

Joseph Serwach

How to make a major decision: A teenage girl started Christianity by making the right choice

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4VL4Xu_0YAAzSdC00The Annunciation by John William Waterhouse (1849–1917). Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons.

A teenage girl started Christianity? Blessed Mother was the first person to accept and choose Jesus Christ.

“Mary was the first person to take The Way to enter the Kingdom of God that Christ opened, a way which is accessible to the humble, to all who trust in the word of God and endeavor to put it into practice,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains.

Mary teaches us discernment, making a massive decision in 7 steps

Nine months before the very first Christmas, the archangel Gabriel presents Mary with the biggest “God decision” any mere mortal has ever made: whether to become the mother of God.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1S4Imw_0YAAzSdC00The Annunciation by Murillo, 1655–1660, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg. Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons.

Step 1: Encounter and identifying the issue

As we learn in Luke 1:27–38, Gabriel calls Mary “favored one,’’ telling her she is “full of grace,’’ which means Divine Gifts. Gabriel adds, “The Lord is with you.’’

Step 2: Praying and discerning meaning

Mary “was distraught at what was said,” pondering “what sort of greeting this might be.”

Step 3: Reviewing the gift

The angel tells Mary not to be afraid, that she had “found favor with God.’’ Then he details the gifts she is being offered:

  • She will conceive and bear a son she will name Jesus, (a name meaning to deliver or rescue).
  • Her son “will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.” God will “give him the throne of David, his father.” Her child “will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there will be no end.”

Step 4: Practical questions, discussion with trusted mentors

Mary asks the angel, “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?”

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska explains Mary “is chosen from among men and angels. Through her, as through a pure crystal, Your mercy was passed on to us. Through her, man became pleasing to God; Through her, streams of grace flowed down upon us.”

Step 5: Assessment, calling on the Holy Spirit — and deeper review

The angel adds, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

Then the angel tells her something about her cousin no mere mortal could know: “And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren.’’

Step 6: Seeking out signs and moral certitude

The archangel gives Mary the final sign and reassurance she needs to give her complete moral certitude about this decision, telling her: “nothing will be impossible for God.”

As St. Teresa of Calcutta explained: “If you ever feel distressed during your day, call upon our Lady, just say this simple prayer: ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit, this prayer has never failed me.”

Step 7: Fully accepting and trusting the decision by taking action

Mary completely accepts God’s Will, saying, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to Your Word.”

Mary’s “yes’’ made her the first Christian, fully accepting God’s Plan, the Son of God as her own baby. From the cross, Jesus would name her mother of the Church — and each of us. Her full acceptance implemented the Plan. Nine months later, she gave birth to Him and the first Christmas.

Her “example of faithful perseverance in doing the will of God and her heavenly reward is a source of courage and hope for all of us,” Pope Benedict added.

The eternal, constant choice: My way vs. The Way, right or wrong

God’s great gamble, Father Dwight Longenecker explains, was giving His children the gift of choice and free will: “He must have love because He is love, but love must be chosen. And for it to be chosen, there must be an option not to love. Therefore, God gave His children the power to choose.’’

Our first mother, Eve, faced humanity’s first choice, one we regularly repeat in our own decision-making process:

  1. Accept God’s Plan, what the original Christians called The Way.
  2. “Have it your way,” trying to be like God by making your own rules.

Mary, the new Eve, accepted The Way without question. St. Louis Marie de Montfort called Mary the perfect model to imitate’’ and “a powerful helper.’’ The quickest way to sainthood, de Montfort said, was to follow Mary.

“As mariners are guided into port by the shining of a star, so Christians are guided to heaven by Mary,” St. Thomas Aquinas stressed.

Today, Catholics are aided in their prayer process by the sacraments, particularly confession to cleanse our souls and communion to fill us with Jesus.

St. Maximillian Kolbe called on us to receive the Eucharist the way Mary chose to receive Jesus: “Receive Jesus in Holy Communion and accept all things from His hands with the humble disposition that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary had at the time of the Annunciation.”

For years, our friend Father Gerald Gawronski struggled with the importance of Mary, asking himself how a teenage girl could be considered the greatest saint. Then he came to fully realize her role as mother of God, mother of the Church, mother to us and our advocate.

Centuries ago, he explains, it was customary for the queen mother’s throne to be next to the king’s throne. People knew that they could take their case to the king’s mother, who would greatly influence her son.

If God the Father is a just judge, Mary is like an attorney or loving advocate there to plead your case. But she is also the advocate for you, her child, to God Himself. The mother of the judge is pretty influential.

St. Josemaria Escriva offers this advice:

“So your strength is failing you? Why don’t you tell your mother about it?…Mother! Call her with a loud voice.
“She is listening to you; she sees you in danger, perhaps, and she — your holy mother Mary — offers you, along with the grace of her son, the refuge of her arms, the tenderness of her embrace…and you will find yourself with added strength for the new battle.”
https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2ZdxPe_0YAAzSdC00Annunciation (c. 1472–1475), Uffizi, is thought to be Leonardo da Vinci’s earliest complete work. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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