Summary: Jesus learned in his human nature that for God, all things are possible, through the words and example of his mother, Mary.
Monday of 7th Week in Course
I find myself in today’s Gospel; perhaps many of us do. Perhaps it’s because so many of us have been parents of teenagers, that human pupa stage that seems designed to enrage adults. In today’s Gospel, the youngster is seen as actually possessed by demons, and dad has tried everything, even coming to the disciples of Jesus. Nobody could do anything. That’s why he tells the Lord, “if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Then Jesus, the Word of God, speaks the Word that should give all of us hope: “All things are possible to him who believes.” The exorcism and healing follow promptly.
Where did Jesus, in His human nature, learn this truth? The last words of the angel Gabriel to His mother were: with God, nothing shall be impossible. Put the two lines together: If we stand with God in faith, anything is possible. Any good thing, that is. So it was the Blessed Virgin, Christ’s mother and ours, who taught Him that truth, lived out that truth, and wants to grow that virtue in us. All things are possible to the one who believes. Stand with God in faith, and do the impossible.
If we are to fulfill the Synod’s inspired commission “to renew the Church’s faith in the word of God,” Pope Benedict tells us “to look to the one in whom the interplay between the word of God and faith was brought to perfection, that is, to the Virgin Mary, ‘who by her yes to the word of the covenant and her mission, perfectly fulfills the divine vocation of humanity’ The human reality created through the word finds its most perfect image in Mary’s obedient faith. From the Annunciation to Pentecost she appears as a woman completely open to the will of God. She is the Immaculate Conception, the one whom God made ‘full of grace’ (cf. Lk 1:28) and unconditionally docile to his word (cf. Lk 1:38). Her obedient faith shapes her life at every moment before God’s plan. A Virgin ever attentive to God’s word, she lives completely attuned to that word; she treasures in her heart the events of her Son, piecing them together as if in a single mosaic.”
“. . .What the understanding of the faith has enabled us to know about Mary stands at the heart of Christian truth. The incarnation of the word cannot be conceived apart from the freedom of this young woman who by her assent decisively cooperated with the entrance of the eternal into time. Mary is the image of the Church in attentive hearing of the word of God, which took flesh in her. Mary also symbolizes openness to God and others; an active listening which interiorizes and assimilates, one in which the word becomes a way of life.” In her Magnificat, Mary identifies with the Word of God, singing the praises of the Lord using words from the OT. “Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the word of God; the word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.” Yet she remains an entirely free agent in her cooperation with God’s plan. She is daughter and willing servant, not a slave. She teaches us the faith that Jesus gives to and demands of His disciples. She was, truly, the first disciple of Christ. “Every Christian believer, Saint Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God: even though there is only one Mother of Christ in the flesh, in the faith Christ is the progeny of us all.”
As we turn from the Holy Father’s words back to today’s Scripture, let’s consider for a moment what St. James wrote about Holy Wisdom: “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.” This looks like a commentary on the early chapters of Luke, and the stories about Mary. She was first pure, a virgin in body, soul and spirit, at peace with God and full of grace. She gently opened herself up to reason–if God wants it, it’s good; if God wants it, it’s possible. After hearing the word of God, Mary, full of mercy and good fruits, hastened to help her elderly, pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, When she came back to Nazareth, she remained certain of her course, despite the fact that she had to sincerely explain to Joseph how & why she, a virgin, was carrying a child, even though Joseph had never touched her. This is a strong woman, full of the Word of God in every possible way, and certainly a perfect role model for today’s men and women, who are assailed by error on every side and live in uncertainty. Let’s not hide this truth. People around us need to learn about the way of Christ as taught by Mary.