Friday, September 12, 2014

Mary's Name

We rejoice as we celebrate today the Name of Mary, a name we call on when we are in distress. We remember someone years ago railing about Mary’s feast days: “I don’t understand what they all mean. They give her too much, make her too privileged.” We like to imagine what Mary’s response to him would be, maybe something like this, “I was, I am, as amazed as you are. All I can tell you is that the Almighty has done great things for me. He has looked on his servant in her nothingness. This, this alone is why all generations have called me blessed. It has little to do with me; it’s all about Him, His pleasure, His delight in my nothingness.”

Clearly to be distracted by Mary’s privileges would be to miss the point. For her story, is our story, individually and as Church. For the Virgin Mary of Nazareth shows us our true self- as total capacity for God in Christ. She shows us the exquisite, breathtaking beauty of our own virgin-self, as totally available to God.

Now certainly we come to our nothingness by a route much different than Mary’s- perhaps through the somewhat bitter self-knowledge of who we really are, what embarrasses us most, our sinfulness. God is not daunted by any of it. He chooses it, wants to transform it, reform it, and inform it with his love and tender mercy, with Himself. And so with Mary we dare to believe in the reality of God’s delight in our nothingness. 

Francisco de Zurbarán, The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, ca. 1660-62.