Monday 4 April 2016

Mary and the Word of God

The word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do
Isaiah 55:11

And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word
Luke 1:38

When the Solemnity of the Annunciation coincides with Eastertide it invites us to consider the great mysteries together. Pre-eminently the Word of the Father is the Son. That Son went forth from the mouth of the Father and became clothed in flesh the moment our Lady gave her glad consent. Before, at the Ascension, He returned to His source the Word experienced the flight into Egypt, the hidden life in Nazareth, the mission in Galilee, the betrayal, abandonment, torture and death of the Passion and the Easter resurrection. All of which constituted, as Isaiah foresaw, a carrying out of the will of the Father, voluntarily undertaken, and an achievement of His purposes using the weapons of humility and seeming defeat.

This all was the work of the Triune God Himself. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each involved essentially in everything that makes for Man's liberation from the dominion of darkness. It has never been, however, God's way with His free creatures, Men and Angels, to act alone, without their participation in their own emancipation. Before the Son, as Man, could begin to do the will of the Father on earth Mary, as Woman and as our representative, had first to make that precise same choice- voluntary obedience to the Father's will.

The glorious triumph of Easter, then, is radically dependent on the quiet faithfulness of Mary. The work of the Word on earth, in the person of Jesus, is God's will in action. This is an exercise of power which is not imposed upon humans but which comes about through His co-operation with them. It is, to be sure, not a relationship of equals, the distance between God and Man is always infinite except in the God Man Jesus. Nonetheless it is a necessity for the God who *is* Love to act in ways which are true to His essential nature and that includes respecting the freedom of those whom He has created to be free. In Measure for Measure Isabella says-
O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant. 
The Lord God is no tyrant therefore He uses His strength with restraint and as a Father not like the pagan gods who were understood to be capricious, deceitful and without restraint of any kind save that imposed by other gods.

It is because God's nature makes human co-operation a necessity for human redemption to be achieved that we can speak of the particular human, Mary, whose co-operation was most necessary as a co-redeemer with Jesus. There is of course only one redeemer, Jesus, and one redemption, through His crucifixion and death, yet without Mary's fiat mihi there would have been no flight into Egypt, no hidden years in Jerusalem and, above all, no Passion, Death and Resurrection. The Father's Word went forth and returned successful not only because it was spoken by Him but also, and crucially, because it was heard and listened to by the Blessed Virgin Mary.


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The painting is from The Life of the Virgin-The Annunciation by Vittore Carpaccio 

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