Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A New Force in the World

Mary is the great believer who humbly offered herself to God as an empty vessel for him to use in his mysterious plan. Without complaint she surrendered control of her life; she did not try to live according to human calculation but put herself completely at the disposal of God’s mysterious, incomprehensible design. All she wanted to be was the handmaid of the Lord, the instrument and servant of the Word.

Dogma and Preaching, 110

Reflection – I’ve been meditating on this blog the last few days on various aspects of ‘how can we make a difference in the world.’ I have been spurred in this direction by the protests on Wall Street, for which I do truly have deep sympathy, even though I (to be honest) disagree with much of their approach, tone, and message.
But the world is in trouble – there’s no question about that, eh! And all people of good will have to come to some conclusion about how we, how I, how you are to do and be something that will help people, even a little bit. All our little bits together can make a big difference.
I truly believe that Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict has a better grasp on what is wrong with the world and what we need to do to help repair it than anyone else alive today—at least anyone else I have encountered. And his vision is deeply spiritual and interior. And Mary stands at the heart of this deep spiritual and interior vision. To hand ourselves over to God; to put ourselves at the disposal of ‘God’s mysterious, incomprehensible design.’ To forsake our own brilliant (not!) ideas and ideologically driven programs (which never, ever work) and cultivate rather an interior attitude: listening, praying, surrendering, seeking God’s face and will, seeking to be his handmaid, his servant.
This is what changes the world. The world changed when Mary herself did this perfectly. The world changed when twelve little fishermen and nobodies from Galilee went out to the Roman Empire talking about this guy, Jesus, who was the Risen Lord. The world changed when Benedict started a little monastery in Nursia, when Francis took off his clothes in the village square of Assisi, when Teresa began her reformed order, when Vincent de Paul started to pour himself out in service of the poor, when Theresa of Calcutta picked up a dying man off the streets.
All of these, we may object, were ‘big’ people who made big impacts because they were so big and brilliant and powerful. But that’s our view of them from the perspective of the time and distance. Each of them was, in him or herself, just one little person trying to listen to God. Trying to love, trying to abandon themselves to Him and His will.
The irony, of course, is that the people who try to change the world by force of their own brilliance or personal charisma or some other ‘way of power’ end up being changed by the world, and the world goes on its not-so-merry way of exploitation and use. The people who entrust themselves to God, who consent to be the seed that falls to the ground and dies, are the ones who set in motion that new force in the world, the energy of love, the power of God, the dawning of the kingdom of heaven in the very heart of the kingdom of the world.
And this is what we must do, if we want to change the world.

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