The Assumption – August 16, 2009
Mary Takes the Word In
1) “Blessed is she who believed” (Lk. 1, 45). Mary “heard” the Word of God and did it. “Luke… stresses one particular feature of the picture of Mary which was important to him, and thus became important for the tradition which has come down through him, when he says three times that Mary kept the word in her heart and pondered it (Lk. 1, 29; 2, 19; 2, 51). First of all, then, she is portrayed as a source of the tradition. The world is kept in her memory; therefore she is a reliable witness for what took place. But memory requires more than a merely external registering of events. We can only receive and hold fast to the uttered word if we are involved inwardly. If something does not touch me, it will not penetrate; it will dissolve in the flux of memories and lose its particular face. Above all it is a fact that understanding and preserving what is understood go together. [Consider the case of dementia where people can understand the given reality in the moment but can’t really understand because they can’t retain reality from moment to moment. My own brother is a case in point]. If I have not really understood a thing, I will not be able to communicate it properly. Only by understanding do I receive reality at all; and understanding, in turn, depends on a certain measure of inner identification with what is to be understood. It depends on love. I cannot really understand something for which I have no love whatsoever. So the transmission of the message needs more than the kind of memory that stores telephone numbers; what is required is a memory of the heart, in which I invest something of myself, involvement and faithfulness are not opposites; the are interdependent.
In Luke, Mary stands as the embodiment of the Church’s memory. She is alert, taking events in and inwardly pondering them. Thus Luke says that she ‘kept’ them (lit., ‘preserved them together’) in her heart, she ‘pondered them (lit., ‘held on to them’). Marty compares the words and events of faith with the ongoing experience of her life and thus discovers the full human depth of each detail, which gradually fits into the total picture. In this way faith becomes understanding and so can be handed on to others: it is no longer a merely external word but is saturated with the experience of a life, translated into human terms; now it can be translated, in turn, into the lives of others. Thus Mary becomes a model for the Church’s mission, i.e., that of being a swelling place for the Word, preserving it and keeping it safe in times of confusion, protecting it, as it were, from the elements.”
Mary Speaks the Word Out
She speaks the Word out in the “Magnificat.” We saw yesterday Benedict’s words on this: “Mary wanted God to be great in the world, great in her life and present among us all. She was not afraid that God might be a "rival" in our life, that with his greatness he might encroach on our freedom, our vital space. She knew that if God is great, we too are great.
“Our life is not oppressed but raised and expanded: It is precisely then that it becomes great in the splendor of God. The fact that our first parents thought the contrary was the core of original sin. They feared that if God were too great, he would take something away from their life. They thought that they could set God aside to make room for themselves.
“This was also the great temptation of the modern age, of the past three or four centuries. More and more people have thought and said: "But this God does not give us our freedom; with all his commandments, he restricts the space in our lives. So God has to disappear; we want to be autonomous and independent. Without this God we ourselves would be gods and do as we pleased."
Benedict dares to speak his “Magnificat” to the Church and the world by proposing the Trinity as the ultimate foundation for the global community and global economy: “The theme of development can be identified with the inclusion-in-relation of all individuals and peoples within the one community of the human family, built in solidarity on the basis of the fundamental values of justice and peace. This perspective is illuminated in a striking way by the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity within the one divine Substance. The Trinity is absolute unity insofar as the three divine Persons are pure relationality. The reciprocal transparency among the divine Persons is total and the bond between each of them complete, since they constitute a unique and absolute unity.” And then he proposes: “God desires to incorporate us into this reality of communion as well: “that they may be one even as we are one” (Jn 17:22).
In a word, the content of “Caritas in Veritate” must be spoken to the global society of today as the key to the development of peoples, and therefore of the world economy. The key to the universal reach of Christian faith will be culture. It’s aims are not global theocracy, but the meaning of the human person working.