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.