Monday, June 06, 2011

Mary's Magnificat and The Sin of Our First Parents

I want to show the contrast in attitude of our first parents induced in them by the Demonic, and the attitude of Our Lady. In the former, it is jealousy of God in that He is keeping something back from them and therefore they distrust His goodness. The Demonic does not deny the existence of God or portray Him as evil. He simply insinuates that God may be keeping something back, and therefore they are to distrust Him. Hence the Covenant is weakened as faith is undermined.

On the other hand, Mary’s sees that God’s greatness is not competition, a holding something back from her. That He be great in no way means that she is less. The contrary: the greater God is, the greater she is. And so it is: by her submission and gift of herself, she becomes divinized as the Mother of God.

So also with us!

Ratzinger on Sin:

“Temptation does not begin with the denial of God and with a fall into outright atheism. The serpent does not deny God; it starts out rather with an apparently completely reasonable request for information, which in reality, however, contains an insinuation that provokes the human being and that lures him or her from trust to mistrust: ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’ The first thing is not the denial of God but rather doubt about his covenant, about the community of faith, prayer, the commandments – all of which are the context for living God’s covenant. … It is so easy to convince people that this covenant is not a gift but rather an expression of envy of humankind and that it is robbing human beings of their freedom and of the most precious things of life. With this doubt people are well on their way to building their own worlds. In other words, it is then that they make the decision not to accept the limitations of their existence; it is then that they decide not to be bound by the limitations imposed by good and evil, or by morality in general, but quite simply to free themselves by ignoring them.”[1]

Mary’s Magnificat:

“It begins with the word "Magnificat": my soul "magnifies" the Lord, that is, "proclaims the greatness" of the Lord. 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." This was also the view of the Prodigal Son, who did not realize that he was "free" precisely because he was in his father's house. He left for distant lands and squandered his estate. In the end, he realized that precisely because he had gone so far away from his father, instead of being free he had become a slave; he understood that only by returning home to his father's house would he be truly free, in the full beauty of life. This is how it is in our modern epoch. Previously, it was thought and believed that by setting God aside and being autonomous, following only our own ideas and inclinations, we would truly be free to do whatever we liked without anyone being able to give us orders. But when God disappears, men and women do not become greater; indeed, they lose the divine dignity, their faces lose God's splendor. In the end, they turn out to be merely products of a blind evolution and, as such, can be used and abused. This is precisely what the experience of our epoch has confirmed for us. Only if God is great is humankind also great. With Mary, we must begin to understand that this is so. We must not drift away from God but make God present; we must ensure that he is great in our lives. Thus, we too will become divine; all the splendor of the divine dignity will then be ours. Let us apply this to our own lives.

[1] J. Ratzinger, “ ‘In the Beginning…’ - A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the FAll” Eerdmans (1995) 66-67.

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