Monday, December 08, 2008

The Immaculate Conception 2008

St. Anselm preached:

“The Creator has been blessed by creation… The whole universe was created by God, and God was born of Mary. God created all things and Mary gave birth to God… God, then, is the Father of the created world and Mary the mother of the re-created world. God is the Father by whom all things were given life and Mary the mother through whom all things were given new life.”

“God created all things and Mary gave birth to God”

God created all things good but they turned bad by sin. Sin entered into the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Matthew’s selection of the genealogy of Christ runs through 14 patriarchs, 14 Kings and 14 relatively unknown and apparently unimportant and forgettable people.

Abraham begot Isaac; and Isaac begot Jacob [less honest than Esau stealing his birthright]; and Jacob begot Judah [not the best of the brothers; Joseph was] and his brethren; and Judah begot Perez and Zerah of Tamar; and Perez begot Hezron; and Hezron begot Ram; and Ram begot Ammin'adab; and Amminadab begot Nahshon; and Nahshon begot Salmon; and Salmon begot Boaz of Rahab [prostitute]; and Boaz begot Obed of Ruth [non-Jewish Moabite]; and Obed begot Jesse; and Jesse begot David, the king. Notice that there are 5 women in the genealogy of Jesus Christ: Tamar (a non-Jew who disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced Judah); Rahab (a non-Jew who was a professional prostitute); Ruth (a non-Jew Moabite); Bathsheba (taken in adultery by David who had her husband killed); Our Lady.
There are then 14 generations of Kings: David engenders Solomon by adultery with Bathsheba, and from Solomon to Hezekiah and Josiah [good] all were idolaters, murderers, incompetent harem-serviced power seekers who ended being deported from the Promised Land to Exile and servitude in Babylon. They lost their freedom and the Temple as the visible presence of God among them.

After the Exile (700 B.C.), they are all unknown and undistinguished figures except two leading to Joseph the husband of Mary, of her was begotten Jesus, called the Christ.
Raymond Brown: “Matthew’s choice of Isaac over Ishmael, of Jacob over Esau, of Judah over Joseph is faithful to the Old Testament insight that God frequently does not choose the best of the noble or the saintly. In other words, Matthew is faithful to an insight about a God who is not controlled by human merit but manifests His own unpredictable graciousness…. Truly, this theology, at work in the choices among the patriarchs, is ‘the beginning story of Jesus Christ,’ since he will preach salvation to tax collectors and sinners, proclaim that they need a physician and not those who are already religious, and who will ultimately die for us ‘while we were still sinners ‘(Rom 5, 8). Matthew’s genealogy is telling us that the story of Jesus Christ contains as many sinners as saints and is written with the crooked lines of liars and betrayers and the immoral, and not only with straight lines.”

and David, the king, begot Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah [adultery]; and Solomon begot Rehoboam [problematic from here on]; and Rehoboam begot Abijah; and Abijah begot Asa; and Asa begot Jehoshaphat; and Jehoshaphat begot Joram; and Joram begot Uzziah; and Uzziah begot Jotham; and Jotham begot Ahaz; and Ahaz begot Hezekiah; and Hezekiah begot Manasseh; and Manasseh begot Amon; and Amon begot Josiah; and Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon;
and after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel; and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel; and Zerubbabel begot Abiud; and Abiud begot Eliakim; and Eliakim begot Azor; and Azor begot Sadoc; and Sadoc begot Achim; and Achim begot Eliud; and Eliud begot Eleazar and Eleazar begot Matthan; and Matthan begot Jacob; and Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

“‘How can Jesus be Joseph’s son if Joseph did not beget him?’ … Matthew gives the answer to the modern question when Joseph is told, ‘She is to bear a son and you are to name him Jesus.’ Judaism wrestled with the fact that it is easy to tell who is a child’s mother, but difficult to tell who is a child’s father. To establish paternity, it is not sufficient to ask the wife because she might lie about the father in order to avoid being accused of adultery. Rather, the husband should give testimony since most men are reluctant to acknowledge a child unless it is their own. The Mishnah to Baba Bathra (8,6), written some 200 years after Jesus’ birth, is lucidly clear. ‘If a man says, “This is my son,” he is to be believed.’ Josephs gives such an acknowledgment by naming the child; thus he becomes the legal father of Jesus. (This is a more correct descriptions than adoptive father or foster father). The identity of Jesus as Son of David is in God’s plan, but Joseph must give to that plan a cooperative obedience that befits a righteous man.”[2]

The Break

Suddenly: “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1, 28). (Not, Hail Miryam [= Mary]). The new name of Our Lady is “full of grace” (kecharitomene). This is who she is. This is her “name.”

And what is grace? Grace is not a “thing.” Grace (charis) is the love of God Himself. Benedict XVI says that grace is not “a supernatural something we carry about in our soul. And since we perceive very little of it, or nothing at all, it has gradually become irrelevant to us, an empty word belonging to Christian jargon, which seems to have lost any relationship to the lived reality of our everyday life. In reality, grace is a relational term: it does not predicate something about an I, but something about a connection between I and Thou, between God and man. ‘Full of grace’ could therefore also be translated as ‘You are full of the Holy Spirit; your life is intimately connected with God’ … (G)race and love are identical but that love ‘is the Holy Spirit.’ Grace in the proper and deepest sense of the word is not some thing that comes from God; it is God himself… The gift of God is God – he who as the Holy Spirit is communion with us. ‘Full of grace’ therefore means, once again, that Mary is a wholly open human being, one who has opened herself entirely, one who has placed herself in God’s hands boldly, limitlessly, and without fear for her own fate. It means that she lives wholly by and in relation to God.”[3]

Hail, full of grace = Hail full of God, and therefore, Hail, full of self-gift.

Therefore, her humanity is not going to have the sins of the genealogy but the unsullied humanity that Eve had before the fall. Mary is the “New Ever” as affirmed as early as “Irenaeus (12-200), St. Justin Martyr (120-165) and Tertullian (160-240) and therefore as engenderer of the “New Man.”

Therefore, The Break of the Immaculate Conception: “Hail, “New Eve”!!!

Why is this? My conjecture: Because God wanted to become man and exercise humanity as His, a humanity that would not contradict His Personhood as God. He wanted to love to death, to give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the mute, life to the dead, the Gospel preached to the poor. He could not do that with a humanity turned back on itself, proud, self seeking, impure and in decay.

Also, He would need to grow and develop like all of his peers by affirmation. As man, Christ would need to be loved by a mother who would affirm him to human maturity. Affirmed persons: “Know who they are. They are certain of their identity. They love themselves unselfishly. They are open to all that is good and find joy in the same. They are able to affirm all of creation, and as affirmers of all beings are capable of making others happy and joyful, too. They are largely other-directed. They find joy in being and doing for others….”
[4] Unaffirmed person: “were not made to know and feel their own goodness, worth and identity. They have been thrown back upon themselves by denial on the part of significant others in their life. They are like prisoners – locked in, lonely, and self-centered – waiting for someone to come and open the door of their prison, waiting to be opened to their own goodness and that of others. No measure of success in business, profession or otherwise can adequately compensate for their feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, uncertainty and insecurity…. They are literally driven to find someone who truly, unequivocally loves them. This is in marked contrast to affirmed individuals who look for someone with whom they can share their love, who can give love as well as receive…”[5]

Therefore, he created his Mother in His divine image without sin and filled with Love. She engenders His full humanity. He is not simply born the God-man and then the humanity develops miraculously. The God-man, “Son though he was, learned obedience from the things that he suffered” (Heb. 5, 8). He needed to be affirmed and commanded to develop into the perfect man affirmed and formed by this human, perfect woman. Who has said this better than
Fulton Sheen:

“Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting. Furthermore, suppose that you had the infinite power to make your mother anything that you pleased, just as a great artist like Raphael has the power of realizing his artistic ideas. Suppose you had this double power, what kind of mother would you have made for yourself? Would you have made her of such a type that would make you blush because of her unwomanly and un-mother-like actions? Would you have made her exteriorly and interiorly of such a character as to make you ashamed or her, or would you have made her, so far as human beauty goes; the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you but even to your fellow men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood?Now if you who are an imperfect being and who have not the most delicate conception of all that is fine in life would have wished for the loveliest of mothers, do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but who had an infinite power to make her just what He chose, would in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother? If you who hate selfishness would have made her selfless and you who hate ugliness would have made her beautiful, do you not think that the Son of God, who hates sin, would have made His own mother sinless and He who hates moral ugliness would have made her immaculately beautiful?"

This woman, whom He created, filled with the Love that God Himself, gives to Him all her DNA so that He could be the prototype of man, He, the New Adam.

THEN: The woman in the crowd: “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that gave you suck” (Lk. 11, 27).

Christ responds: “Yeah, rather blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk. 11, 18). John Paul II asks: “Is Jesus thereby distancing himself from his mother according to the flesh?” He responds: “Is not Mary the first of ‘those who hear the word of God and do it’? And therefore does not the blessing uttered by Jesus in response to the woman in the crowd refer primarily to her?”

By her “Yes,” (fiat), she was the cause of the full and perfect humanity of God in her. Filled with the God Who is Love, she “races” “with haste” over the obstacles of the mountains, to serve Elizabeth in her pregnancy.

Conclusion: Let Mary take you by the hand. You have not been created without original sin. You and I need her: the rosary, the ejaculations, the images in your rooms, the scapular about your necks – to help you say “Yes” in the “everything” of daily life.
“God created all things, and Mary gave birth to God.”

[1] Ratmond E. Brown, “Coming Christ in Advent” The Liturgical Press (1988) 20.
[2] Ibid 34.
[3] H. Urs von Balthasar, J. Ratzinger, “Mary, The Church at the Source,” Ignatius (2005) 67-68.
[4] Conrad Baars, “I Will Give Them a New Heart,” St. Pauls (2008) 190.
[5] Ibid 191.
[6] John Paul II, “Mother of the Redeemer,” #20.

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