Monday, August 16, 2010

Revelation and Faith as "Actions"

In the wake of a major feast of our Lady, like the Assumption, it is stunning to see the relation between the act of faith and the Incarnation. Both are actions, one by God, the other by our Lady – and therefore possible for us. Benedict XVI does an exegesis of the Creed: “Et Incarnatus Est” and remarks: “The drama of this sentence lies in the fact that it makes a statement, not about God’s eternal being, but about action, which on closer examination actually proves to be a statement about suffering, in the passive voice. The ‘ex Maria Virgin’ belongs to the statement about action, in which the three Divine Persons are involved, each in his own way. Indeed, the whole drama hands on just this thread. For without Mary, God’s entrance into history would not achieve its intended purpose. That is, the very thing that matters most in the Creed would be left unrealized – God’s being a God with us, and not only a God in and for himself. Thus, the woman who called herself lowly, that is, nameless (Lk. 1, 48), stands at the core of the profession of faith in the living God, and it is impossible to imagine it without her. She is an indispensable, central component of our faith in the living, acting God. The Word becomes flesh – the eternal Meaning grounding the universe [Sinngrund der Welt] enters into her. He does not merely regard her from the outside; he becomes himself an actor in her.”[1] (underline mine)

And here I offer Ratzinger’s understanding of Revelation as action (the Person of Christ) and the act of faith (the action of the receiving subject – the believer – becoming the Person of Christ by the action of self gift).[2] The point being that God continues to become incarnate in us when we perform the action of faith. This is done in the very exercise of ordinary, secular work in the world. This is an astounding reality to contemplate.

[1] J. Ratzinger, “ ‘Et Incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto,’” Mary, The Church at the Source, Ignatius (2005) 82-83.

[2] Cf. “Milestones…” 108-109.

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