Sunday, November 04, 2007

Virginity in God and in Mary. Part 2

When the Angel Gabriel came to ask Mary's consent to the unique honour and extravagant joy of being the Mother of God, the Lord did not issue an order. Instead, he asks, "Will you?" This singular honour was proposed to Mary, one woman among the millions God created. In this example, we discern a pattern of action observed by God in regard to all souls. God exercises a mind-boggling respect for every soul. He respects our freedom more than we ourselves do. He respects the secrets and the mindset of each person in a way we cannot match. God asks this young woman:"Will you be the Mother of the Word who is going to take flesh?" What a radical turn of events for this young woman! The thought of becoming a mother completely changed every aspect of her future, as she had anticipated it. However, as soon as she realized that this message came from God, her creator and master, she replied at once, in words reflecting her total contingency, "Ecce ancilla Domini - Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord" (Luke 1:38). I have nothing else to say to my master. Years later, you recall, her son stayed at the Temple and she anxiously searched for him. Upon finding him, she exclaimed, as any mother would have: "Son why have you done this to us?" (Luke 2:48). Jesus responded: "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49). Thus, when he was twelve years old and just entering adulthood, Jesus began to indicate that he had come into the world to establish the reign of God in human hearts. Again, Mary remained silent. She accepted everything, regardless of the consequences for her own motherly heart.
Let us gaze upon Mary especially during the tragic hours of the Passion. You will not see her dramatically displaying her sorrows, as many mothers would. The Virgin Mary is there, walking along with her son and sharing all his sorrows, but utters not a word, not a rebuke, not a plea aimed at diminishing the suffering she sees. She totally embraces the will of God, as it unfolds in the brutal treatment of her child. She acts in complete accord with her role as a creature and does not try to alter the divine plan. She is a creature, pure and simple; she is a virgin. Although time does not permit us to dwell on the point, this virginity and this characteristic of a pure creature, grounded in obedience, is Mary's special grace of prayer. Habitual grace flooded Mary's soul and made her conscious of her condition as creature and she shaped her as a virgin, eager to obey God alone. This fidelity, in turn, increases her merit and occasions a further outpouring of grace. Thus comes about an extraordinary cycle. Mary's virginity wins her new graces, which unable her ever more consciously to realize her role as a total virgin.
We will likewise be virgins to the degree that we are faithful to our role as creatures. In that perspective, virginity consists not merely of the absence of sensual pleasures and feelings but also of something greater. Virginity entails eliminating within us any thing that does not come from God and does not express God's will. Let us strive for that goal. Let us see if we are worthy of the lofty title of virgin. That title is reserved for the soul who valiantly and totally submits to God, as did the Blessed Virgin Mary. Amen.