Saturday, July 30, 2011

What Does it Mean to Be A Person?

Mary is the open vessel of longing, in which life becomes prayer, and prayer becomes life. Saint John wonderfully conveys this process by never mentioning Mary’s name in his Gospel. She no longer has any name except ‘the Mother of Jesus’. It is as if she handed over her personal dimension in order now to be solely at his disposal, and precisely thereby had become a person.

Mary, the Church at the Source, 15-16

Reflection -  A number of years ago, I had a personality clash with another member of Madonna House (I know, you’re shocked!). What rubbed me the wrong way was that she never called me by name – at the time, I was the director of our liturgical choir, and she always called me “Maestro” whenever she saw me. This annoyed me. One day I even snapped at her, “I have a name, you know!” She was duly chastised.
I thought I was quite justified at the time (don’t we always…). But now, reading these luminous words from the Pope, I’m not so sure. I want to be called by my name! I am a person! I am an individual! I have rights! R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – find out what it means to me, or feel my wrath.
Mary was a person, an individual with rights, a creature endowed with dignity, worthy of respect. And yet… ‘she handed over her personal dimension in order now to be solely at his disposal’.
We are so sure, we moderns, of what it means to be a person with dignity and respect. It means to be recognized, acknowledged, to be assertive and put across one’s own personal views/dynamism/presence into the world.
For Mary, to be a person was to be an open vessel of longing for God. For Mary, to be a person was to be arms wide open, lifted up in supplication, embracing, taking in God, and hence the whole world, into her embrace. For Mary, to be a person was to be an empty space, an unplanted field, a virginal womb awaiting the fullness of God.
A very different picture of personhood emerges here. We have two models of personhood, really. And they are sharply separate, clearly delineated, truly as far from each other as heaven is from hell. There is the person as self-assertion, self-expansion, aggression—which is truly a demonic idea of personhood. And there is person as open receptivity, humble waiting, responsivity to our Father who made us, the Son who died to save us, the Spirit who descends upon us to make our lives fruitful. The Marian person. And we really do have to choose what kind of person we are becoming, we want to become. And that choice is, simply, heaven or hell.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.