Mary Mother of God 6

Our Lady of La Leche St. Augustine New Year 2020-0629

“Nuestra Señora de la Leche y Buen Parto” at the Cathedral of St. Augustine in St. Augustine, Florida (photo taken by Alison Stone 1/3/2020)

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22-27)

Among the mysteries in Sacred Scripture the one that puzzles the most, perhaps, is Israel’s failure to live up to its end of the bargain. That would not be a total mystery, except for the fact that God continually upholds his part, despite their failure.

Mysteries are revealed truths of our faith that we can pursue forever with our minds yet we never fully wrap our heads around them. Something in us drives us to find an answer to these puzzles, but eventually we just have to accept that we will not figure them out. So what is the point to considering them in the first place?

The point in contemplating mysteries – as Mary did by “keeping these things in her heart” – is that through them our understanding and living of the faith deepens in ways we never would have thought. We don’t know what we’ll find once we embark down the path of pondering the mystery. There’s nothing determinate about it.

It’s like a choose your own adventure Bible Study. Our mind will always arrive at some new destination; yet our heart’s journey never ends.

Such is the mystery of Mary the Mother of God. Such is the Story of Israel.

To unpack the story of Israel, right now, would be to unfold God’s entire plan of Salvation History, up till the Incarnation of Christ, when Mary first appears on the scene.

For our purposes, we don’t need to delve in to every episode. An executive summary follows: it’s a love story between God and humanity; humanity always fails. God never fails.

We find the first foreshadowing of this epic endgame right after the Fall:

I will put enmity between you (serpent) and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
He will strike at your head,
while you strike at His heel. (Genesis 3:15)

In a nutshell, the story of Israel and the mystery of the Mother of God beings here. Neither one makes sense without the other. Neither of them make sense without Christ.

God chose us first. He wants to be in a love relationship with humanity – you and me. Humanity, however is deeply flawed, and cannot even begin live up to God’s infinite standard of love.

God has a plan. He will unite himself with us in a sacred bond through his chosen people Israel. However, Israel is deeply flawed, showing time and time again that they cannot live up to the Law.

Yet God perseveres. The beauty – and the mystery – consists in God’s continuing to outdo himself.

God chooses Mary to do what Israel never could do. How so?

Mary is able to do the seemingly impossible, through her obedience and total dependence on God. She is able to do so because, “with God all things are possible,” and she accepts that. Thus she can stand in for Israel to be the example for the rest of humanity of how to live and love as God’s chosen people.

She is thus the New Mother of God’s chosen people, the New Israel, The Church.

The mystery of the Mother of God is set before us on this Solemnity for us to ponder. We are invited to imitate Mary today by keeping these things in our heart that somehow the very thing we are humanly incapable of may come about through God’s power – that the wisdom of God may come upon us, so we too can do God’s will and serve as his people.

6 comments

  1. Because I’m human and female I shall never be able to understand how we came to be so incapable.

    God created Adam and then Eve. And He also created the serpent. And the Tree of Knowledge.

    God created everything on Earth and in the Universe. God is Perfect.

    How was He capable of making anything imperfect? God is All Knowing. Yet He created the possibility of Temptation.

    The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and the serpent were created, it seems, to tempt just Eve. God, after all, created females to be weak, to be led, to be governed by male humans; deeply imperfect. Why would He do that?

    Adam, by his very form and nature was created perfect. And yet he, too, was tempted.

    The Tree of Knowledge and the serpent were the very objects that would be the cause of these two God-created humans being exiled from the Garden of Eden.

    Adam and Eve could have been in the Garden even now, living just to praise and worship their Creator, had He created them to be not only in His image but in His Perfection. And had He not created the Tree of Knowledge and the serpent.

    How is this an example of Love?

    The underlying problem seems to be that from the start God’s Love is conditional: “Obey my rules, or I will banish you.”

    God made us all, males too it seems, imperfect. We can never be perfect, no matter how hard we try. We can never be what God wants us to be.

    We are doomed to failure before we start.

    As a human female, I’m even more doomed.

    • It really is a tough, tough thing to grapple with. The reality of sin in our lives is just as you described it, an utter mystery. It’s good to keep praying and keep working through it, though, with the help of God’s grace. I always loved the way St. Anselm grapples with these issues in the first chapter of his Proslogion. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Proslogion#Chapter_I
      Anselm struggles with these issues with God in prayer. I think ultimately there really is only one way to come to terms with it all, which is that we must depend on God’s grace. Alone, we can’t. And that’s how Mary did it: She was full of grace from the start. Let’s look to her!

      • Thank you. I shall always struggle, but Life – an unfathomable miracle in itself – is all about the struggle for Truth. St Bernadette de Soubirous first brought Mary into my life. I shall revisit that memory.

      • P.S. Many thanks for the link to St Anselm’s Proslogion. I downloaded to read the whole thing later, after I read the first few lines that urges us to (paraphrasing here) chill awhile and chat with God. Sounds like excellent advice. 🙂

  2. YOu are NOT doomed: You are free. Free to choose your own destiny. Only in Protestant Theology is Freedom equated with Doom; nowhere else- not in Catholic Theology,, nor in the temporal sphere(politics, economics or the like, is Freedom Equated with Doom. Change your thinking. “For the Truth shall set you free”.

  3. Thank you, John. I have ‘tried on’ many different religions in my life and have been confused by the need to believe and without question the rules and tenets of each, when the nature with which I was gifted at birth demands that I question everything. The struggle to recognise the Truth in this day and age is a constant battle. However, I shall try to change my way of thinking.

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