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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

The Mother of God and Holy Humanity

The Fathers of the Church believed that when the Word became flesh whatever of our humanity was not subsumed by His Divine Person and united to His Divinity was not redeemed. The Fathers of the Church argued vigorously that the whole human reality, apart from sin, was subsumed by Christ: when the Word became flesh, He joined Himself irrevocably to all that is good, noble and true about our existence as well as all our limits, inadequacies and weaknesses.

Part of our human reality is the personal particularity of each one of us - and this too is what He has joined to Himself. This means that we are never truly alone - He is with us in our innermost self, completely connected to our plight. In this way, He is present to every person who has ever lived and who will ever lived. There is no misery to which He is stranger - for He has chosen that no human person should ever suffer alone. He comes to us in this manner because He is on an active pursuit to save our dignity and restore our integrity. That is because God loves the whole human reality and does not wish any of it to perish in self-contradiction and alienation. For this is what sin is. Jesus did not sin, but He suffers its consequences with us and for us to deliver us us from its power. There is no human evil or suffering that is greater than His presence. He has already suffered it all, even unto death. He has journeyed into the depths of hell to search for us so that no matter how far we have gone from Him, the Savior of humanity is still only a prayer away. In your Savior's presence, all that would threaten holy humanity is subordinated to the love of the Father. To enter this presence, all one needs to do is believe. All one needs to do is humble himself and ask. We can do this confidently because of the immensity of His love: He has willingly sacrificed everything to free each of us from meaningless and death. This means salvation is a very concrete and particular reality - and so is our prayer. Salvation is not a generalized reality that is true is some vague way against the backdrop of the history of human activity. It is at the concrete heart of it all -- and so is the prayer of faith. Very particular, very personal, this mystery that takes up our highest thoughts and deepest desires because each instance of our short lives are pregnant with the presence of the Word made flesh. No one's life is accidental, but a pure gift. When we pray, the gift is opened. The Father has entrusted His Son to us so that we might know the truth about who we are, how much we are loved and the greatness to which we are called. This presence of the Word of the Father makes us part of the story of salvation. Eternal Son of God tells the story of God's merciful love in his very person uniting humanity's time and space, limitation and weakness, temptation and struggle to God's eternal life and divine immensity, superabundance and divine power, unchanging truth and perfect peace. The saving Love of God is the spotlight that definitively shines with the truth on all of human history and is the stage on which each one's life story is told. This Divine Love is the drama in which all humanity and each one of us has an un-repeatable role. What made such a union between God and man possible? The Lord never imposes on human freedom. Having created freedom and seeing his divine image and likeness in it, He would not corrupt or oppress it. Instead, he came to us to evoke a free response, and the dynamism of His appeal was entirely in the order of love and truth. He humbly proposed His plan and waited for us to respond. The Father spoke His Word and waited for a heart to fully welcome His wisdom. The end is commensurate with the means - God acts within the parameters of human freedom because He yearns to raise the freedom on high. The Lord waits for our hearts to welcome His Word. Our existence is awaited by such an immensity of love, but this love will not force itself. The God who is Love waits to be invited, to be asked, to be desired, to be welcomed. He endures our rejection, our indifference, our denial and our betrayal. This love is patient and confident - for its very presence already begins to produce something in us. Its patience evokes a yearning that we did not know we had. He waits before our loneliness and self-contradiction ready to welcome us home and restore our integrity. God has created us without our asking it, but He will not save us until we ask. A petition always expresses a desire. If we do not desire to be saved, He will never force salvation upon us. This is a hidden secret - and only those who enter the hiddenness of faith in the Son of God can find it. So it was that Mary heard the angel's greeting and by granting God permission to accomplish his plan in her, the Word gained a small, quiet foothold on humanity's shore. In Mary's humble "yes", the Word made flesh found solid rock from which to resound. The Word unveiled the desire of the Father through the "yes" of a woman. Her humble prayer and quiet faith opened the pathway to salvation for the whole world. The Woman welcomed Word into her heart. Her spirit surrendered to God's plan and her body conceived a new Adam under the shadow of the Most High. Whoever enters under this same shadow still finds this wonderful woman - for the Mother of God follows her Son and yearns that everyone might discover the freedom to "go and do whatever He tells you." Blessed are those who freely chose to share such holy desires, the desire of this Holy Mother who believed - for it gives the Word space to turn water into wine, to transform human limits with divine freedom. What a beautiful work in all creation humanity is! When filled with grace, the human creature can say "yes" to God and in this "yes" what Christ has joined in his Divine Person is made fruitful anew. In this yes, all the glory and power of Christian prayer is unleashed. The Word of the Father asks to dwell in this particular heart, at this particular time and place, under what particular circumstances He has yearned to make part of his saving mystery. All of this when anyone freely chooses to live in obedient love under the shadow of the most High.

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