Light and Life – July-Aug. 2019, Vol 72, No 4 – A Publication of the Western Dominican Province
Mary speaks only four times in the Gospels but each is wrought with meaning both for her role in the Church as Virgin and Mother and for us as her children. Each time she speaks she addresses some common experience of the members of the Church of Christ.
Growth in prayer is a constant issue for all baptized Christians. The foundation of all growth in prayer is the grace a Christian receives in baptism and makes each a member of the Church. This grace involves the forgiveness of sins because it is actually a change in the nature of the soul of the Christian. By this change, man receives union with the Holy Trinity, all the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit. We can know as God knows and love as God loves but this demands our cooperation. We live in a culture today that grasps at being God by sheer human power seen in everything from abortion to the denial of truth. To this Mary says: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)
Human beings are often smitten and mesmerized by their own desire to run the world. Instead of: “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” they are tempted to say: “my will be done in heaven as it must be done on earth.” St. Augustine says that all of concupiscence is contained in: “the desire to dominate”. Human beings can seek manipulation and domination in the simplest things like the placement of the furniture or the color of the walls. Pride leads people to assign blessedness to all kinds of things, awards, positions and experiences which cannot bring it. When Elizabeth calls Mary blessed, she simply gives the lie to this by saying: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Lk 1: 46)
God can seem hidden to people at times, especially in suffering. People question where he can be found. Dryness in prayer can lead a person to believe they have lost their souls and think prayer is useless. Some abandon all hope and reject religion and the life of virtue. Mary and Joseph sought Jesus for three days and when he was found in the Temple, she said: “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have sought you sorrowing.” (Lk 2: 48) Jesus does not reprove them for seeking him but for wasting three days doing it. They know who he is. Where should they seek him but in the Temple?
Ordinary actions of daily life do not have to become the stuff of which high virtue is made. Yet, Mary’s final statement has to do with saving a couple from embarrassment over their lack of wine at a party. Mary shows her compassion for them and her confidence in her Son by interceding for them: “Son, they have no wine.” Everyday actions are the place where the more necessary virtues like integrity, generosity and humility should be practiced. Mary speaks here to each of us and shows her complete contemplation of Christ in faith: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5)