This excerpt from Ratzinger is in relation to Mary’s role in the Incarnation. It is from a homily he preached on the text of Isaiah 55: 10-11: “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and does not return, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so shall my word go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me empty, but accomplish what I desire…”
And so he writes:
“when the text says that the word, or the seed, bears fruit, it means that, unlike a ball that hits the ground and bounces back up, the seed actually sinks into the earth, assimilates the earth’s energies, and changes them into itself. It thus brings about something truly new, for now it carries the earth in itself, and turns it into fruit.”
Mary, the Church at the Source, p. 14.
This is crucial in understanding, not just Mary’s role, but ours. We tend to think of our lives as somehow being just about us, don’t we? Even if we’re essentially trying to be good people? You know: I am me and you are you and she is she and God is God and… we’re all in little hermetically sealed compartments. We may bump up against each other, but ultimately we’re all locked into our own selves. This kind of atomic individualism is deeply ingrained in us.
And God is God, and the world is the world: so much of modernity is founded on a conviction that the two are not just distinct, but strictly separated one from the other.
But ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (John ). God seems to have crossed the threshold of the world. And Mary is right there at that moment: it is Mary’s flesh that clothed him. And she was not just a passive vessel in this—she gave her consent. God entered her, and she gave herself to this event, so that God could become man in Jesus.
And this same Word comes into us, too. Mary was this good soil who totally gave herself to Jesus. But we’re that soil, too, not quite as good as her, but even so... The Father wants our consent, too. He wants to do something with our ‘flesh’ – the stuff of our humanity, the energies, as Ratzinger puts it, of our being. And He wants to bring forth something new in us, too, from our earth, our being. He wants to make it fruitful.
This ties right back to the previous post on creativity. The deep creativity of our lives, the fruitfulness we really are made for, is not a question of producing a book, a blog, a poem, a song, or a cake.
It is producing Christ in the world, in our flesh. My individual self is made to be soil, receiving the Word so as to (in a sense) become the Word, a living Gospel, so as to give the Word to others who can receive it and become it and give it in turn. Not exactly as Mary did; she is unique. But as I can, and as you can, in faith. Receive so as to become so as to give. This is holiness, and it is the deep creativity of our lives.