Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Path Has Been Opened

So we cry to her: Holy Mary, you belonged to the humble and great souls of Israel who, like Simeon, were “looking for the consolation of Israel” (Lk ) and hoping, like Anna, “for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk ). Your life was thoroughly imbued with the sacred scriptures of Israel which spoke of hope, of the promise made to Abraham and his descendants (cf. Lk ). In this way we can appreciate the holy fear that overcame you when the angel of the Lord appeared to you and told you that you would give birth to the One who was the hope of Israel, the One awaited by the world. Through you, through your “yes”, the hope of the ages became reality, entering this world and its history. You bowed low before the greatness of this task and gave your consent: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk ). When you hastened with holy joy across the mountains of Judea to see your cousin Elizabeth, you became the image of the Church to come, which carries the hope of the world in her womb across the mountains of history.
Spe Salvi 50

Reflection – ‘C’est le mois de Marie…’ The old, old hymn my French-Canadian grandmother used to sing to me resonates in my heart this morning. ’Tis the month of Mary, the month of May – happy May to you all!

I thought I would spend the next few days on a Mary theme in consequence of that (with all due respect and love to St. Joseph the Worker today). As it turns out, when I looked at this concluding paragraph to Spe Salvi I noticed that Pope Benedict divides up the theme of Mary and hope into three rather obvious divisions. Namely, the hope of Mary in her joy, in her sorrows, and in her glory. Hmmm, for some reason that three-fold division sounds familiar… now wait a minute, it’s a bit of a mystery to me still… it’ll come to me one of these decades… I just have to get a bead on it…

Oh, yeah.

And so here we contemplate with Mary the joyous fact that through her and in her maternity, hope entered the world. This child, this baby, this embryo, this fetus, this zygote, this microscopic organism buried deep in the heart of this little girl in Nazareth—hope entering the world.

What kind of eyes of faith did she need to see that? What kind of faith-eyes do we need to see that? Who is this woman, and who is this child? Oh, we all know our catechism (I hope!) and can give the right answers when prompted. But really… who are these people? And how are they ‘hope’ for us?

The world is falling apart. Really, when is it not falling apart, but boy in 2012 it sure seems to be REALLY FALLING APART, MAN!!! (Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to shout…) Well, I guess we’ll see just how ‘apart’ it’s all going to end up falling. But where is hope today? How does this zygote, this fetus, this baby, this child, this man provide hope for you and me today? Can you give an answer to that question, if someone asks you? Can I?

Well, let me try! This child is hope for us, a hope that Mary bore witness to and came to know intimately as no one else ever has (which is why she is so important in our lives, by the way), because He is God. And because God came into our humanity, because he united himself to our humanity in this strange and mysterious event of the Incarnation in Mary’s womb, there is a divine path opened up in the heart of the human condition.

We are all of us born, we live, we suffer, we die. We have moments of joy and beauty, and times of darkness and woe. And then we die. The human condition. But God in Jesus opens up another path in that human condition, one that does not end with suffering and death. One that encompasses all our humanity in all its light and shadows, and at ever moment, every turn, every possible form and shape and movement of human life opens up a path to true and lasting good future.

It is not a question of being absorbed by the divine into some sort of depersonalized nirvana. It is not a question of becoming ‘gods’ in a some kind of Mormon/Gnostic/New Age apotheosis. It is a question, in our Catholic Christian understanding, of our humanity, of you and me in the deep truth of who we are as human beings, being taken up in this divine communion of persons, of being drawn into this Dance, this Life, this Celebration which we call the Trinity, and ourselves becoming in this ‘being drawn’ all dance, all life, all celebration—forever. That’s our Catholic faith.

And this is what that zygote, that fetus, that child, that man Jesus makes possible for us. This is our hope, and Mary knows all about it. That’s why we go to her for help on the way there. C’est le mois de Marie – let’s hope it’s a good one for us all!

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