Saturday, January 6, 2018

Her Assent

Mary renounces herself, in order to let God alone become active in her. Mary makes her whole being, with all its potentialities, accessible to God’s action. Yet, precisely in resolving to make this renunciation, she becomes cooperative in her whole person with the grace offered her. Everything in her person is ordered to it. Mary, in freely and willingly letting go of all other potentialities for her life, paradoxically, obtains their fulfillment beyond all expectation. Submitting herself to God in everything, she lets her assent form her whole existence. Before God she knows no caution, she expresses no wishes, no preferences, makes no demands. She enters into no contract, sets up no conditions, no if this then that. Once and for all, she renounces all self-shaping of her own life. Having set no limits or conditions in her renunciation, but having given herself completely in her answer, her fruitfulness is boundless.

Mary’s fruitfulness is so incomparable because her assent is laid up entirely in God and remains there. With us it is different. However sincerely and devoutly we promise to belong entirely to God, to sacrifice everything to him, to be eternally faithful to him, and through our renunciation and self-gift to lead as many people to him as possible, inevitably we fall back into lukewarmness and indifference. Never on this side of the grave do we experience the death to self that would enable us to live only for God in a fully consistent way. With Mary, it is completely different. In speaking her assent, she has died so completely to herself that she lives only in her Son and for him. From the beginning, God knows that he can place the life of his Son within her, confident that the Mother he has chosen for the Son will always live her life in service to the Son, as a function of his life. Nothing in her opposes the redemptive action of the Son; rather everything places itself at his disposal to further and enhance it.

It is from this surrender that Mary embraces her mission as Mother and treasures all matters regarding her Son, reflecting on them in her heart. 

Orazio Gentileschi, Italian ( 1563 - 1639), The Virgin with the Sleeping Christ Child, c. 1610, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard. Excerpts from Father Timothy's Homily for New Year's Day.