Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Feast of Human Dignity

The gift of God is God – He who as the Holy Spirit is communion with us. ‘Full of grace’ therefore means, once again, that Mary is a wholly open human being, one who has placed herself in God’s hands boldly, limitlessly, and without fear for her own fate.

It means she lives wholly by and in relation to God. She is a listener and a prayer, whose mind and soul are alive to the manifold ways in which the living God quietly calls to her. She is one who prays and stretches forth wholly to meet God; she is therefore a lover…

When man’s relationship to God, the soul’s open availability to him, is characterized as ‘faith’, this word expresses the fact that the infinite distance between Creator and creature is not blurred in the relation of the human I to the divine Thou. 

It means that the model of ‘partnership’, which has become so dear to us, breaks down when it comes to God, because it cannot sufficiently express the majesty of God and the hiddenness of his working. It is precisely the man who has been opened up entirely into God who comes to accept God’s otherness and the hiddenness of his will, which can pierce our will like a sword. 

Joseph Ratzinger, Mary, the Church at the Source

Reflection – Happy Feast Day! It is the great and glorious day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the great feast of the Incarnation, when the will of God and the fiat of Our Lady brought forth into the world this most miraculous event since the creation of the world: God becoming man for love of us and for our salvation.

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger reflects so very deeply on this here in this luminous passage from a luminous book. It is such a beautiful passage, written with his trademark lucid clarity that I have little to add to it, really. It is the openness of Mary that, perhaps, is the fit object of our meditation this day. Mary as the wide open space for God, a human heart, finite, frail, poor, and yet she holds nothing back, refuses God nothing.

We see in Mary, then, just what humanity is made of, what our true capacity is, undiminished by sin and stagnation, refusal and artificial self-limitation. The human person unfettered and free, totally given and totally open to God, is capable of being a vessel of God’s life in the world.

God is God, and He is the efficient cause, the prime mover of the Incarnation, but Mary shows us that this is what God wants to do, chooses to do, what He has made humanity for in a very essential and real sense. He has made us to bear Himself into the world. Creatures of flesh, mortal, passible, inconstant—and yet this is the real story of humanity, the real truth of our being.

There is a whole anthropology in this short passage, a whole vision of what human life is, that is well worth meditating on and in the deepest sense of the phrase, taking to heart. Open, praying, alive, responsive, listening, loving, stretching forth, believing—this is what a human person in truth is to be. When we live elsewise, when we move in some other mode of being and acting we are not ‘merely being human’, but truly lapsing into being sub-human.

So if this is the feast of the Incarnation of God as man, in a sense it is also the great feast of our humanity, our human dignity, our human vocation, our human nature in its truest expression. So, rejoice today in being human, rejoice that God has made us thus, and that His love and His generosity (and His mercy, because how many times have we refused Him!) desire to do in us what He did in Mary, in a different way for sure, but the same thing in essence.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. May we all say yes today to God, so His word can live in our lives today.


  1. Happy Feast to you.
    Thank you for these beautiful words...
    Here is something for you from my reading today...
    "Of all the powers, love is the most powerful and the most powerless. It is the most powerful because it alone can conquer that final and most impregnable stronghold which is the human heart.
    It is the most powerless because it can do nothing except by consent"
    Frederick Buechner

    Bless you!


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