Friday, October 5, 2012

Getting a Word in Edgewise

Mary’s divine maternity and her enduring attitude of openness to God’s word are seen as interpenetrating here [in the Annunciation]: giving ear to the angel’s greeting, Mary welcomes the Holy Spirit into herself. Having become pure hearing, she receives the Word so totally that it becomes flesh in her.
Mary, the Church at the Source, 72

Reflection -  Well, it’s October and I haven’t posted about Our Lady yet. That’s wrong. October is one of the months dedicated to the Mother of God, and specifically to the rosary and its place in the life of the Church.

We see here in Ratzinger’s brief reflection on the Annunciation, the first joyful mystery of the rosary, a penetration into the very meaning and structure of humanity, of creation, and ultimately of God Himself. It is this whole business of receptivity—the entirety of our humanity and its divine origin and destiny can be summed up in that one word.

We receive being from God, and then He wishes to give us His own divine Being. Our received human being is meant to be consummated, completed, by the reception of the Holy Spirit, of the Word of God. Our flesh, itself a gift from God, is meant to be open, receptive, completed by the gift of God Himself in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is all gift and reception. And that is why receptivity is a virtue, a habit of mind and heart, that is of the utter essence for our human life.

We express this receptivity fundamentally in the act of listening. To know that, as the agents Mulder and Scully used to say, ‘the truth is out there.’ It’s ‘in there’, too, in our own hearts, but it’s primarily and fundamentally outside ourselves. And so we are to listen—listen to the word of God in the scriptures, listen to the Church’s teaching office, for sure. But also, listen to the person sitting across from you, listen to the sounds of nature and of the city of man, listen to the cry of humanity coming from so many directions.

Listen to the people we disagree with, and may consider dangerously wrong in their ideas. We still have to listen to them. Listen to people who may seem utterly foreign to us, who we have no idea why they think, say, and do the things they do. All the more reason to listen to them.

The Christian should be all ears. All Ear, all reception, all concentrated determined choice to hear the other, to hear the Other, to receive into one’s being what is not ourselves, always with discernment, with careful and judicious thought, but always listening.

It is this attitude of mind and spirit, which is closely connected to humility, that allows God to instruct us and teach us the way we should walk. Even more, it is this humility of heart and openness of spirit that allows God to finally come to us and make our flesh an expression of his Word for the world today. I don’t see how this can happen if we bluster around with arrogance and aggressive self-assertion—can God get a Word in edgewise into our flesh?

I’m aware of this in the context of the times we live in. The Americans who make up the bulk of my blog readers (hi guys!) are in the final weeks of the usual red-blue contentious election season. Global strife is hotting up in the usual places among the usual players, and the future looks a bit bleak on that front.

There is just so much hostility, hatred, polarization, division. So much shouting. We who are Christians need to curb that in ourselves at least, and cultivate quiet listening hearts. We need to bring the Word to the world, not our own endless wrangling words. And Mary…and the rosary… can help us here a great deal. October is the month of the rosary.

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