While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Lk 11:27-28)
HOMILY given at the General Assembly of the SAC on October 8, 2016
You, dear confrere, who are celebrating the Liturgy here today, you are the “seat of wisdom”, you are “the singular vessel of devotion”, the “arc of the covenant” and “the morning star”, as described in the Litany of Loreto. You are “Mary”. And you are “Mary, the God Bearer”.
The theologian Anton Rotzetter says, that during the first millennium, Mary was not so much seen as an other Person, standing apart from us, but as an inner, formative figure, as an “arch symbol” for our own Christian lives. Only in the Middle Ages, as the Veneration of the Saints became the focus of the faith, did Mary, as a biblical figure, become more and more detached from the Interior and became an Other, an Outsider.
If we take these thoughts seriously, Mary takes on a new and important significance: She is my model, my vocation and my challenge. She is the map of God on which my way has been marked out.
In a similar fashion another theologian says of Jesus Christ: This Christ does not so much wish to be venerated and prayed to, but to be imitated. That goes in the same direction. I believe, that we occasionally admire Mary too much and thereby dispense ourselves from realizing her in our own lives.
For there is a woman who shouts out from the crowd with passion and enthusiasm and begins a hymn of praise to the woman who gave birth to Jesus.
In psychology one speaks of “the white shadow”. This “white shadow” refers to the fact, that we see, praise and congratulate in others what we should actually be realizing ourselves. It is a “white shadow”; “white”, because it is about the best and the highest of which a human being is capable; “shadow”, because we are not able to see this call to the highest, the greatest and the extraordinary in ourselves, indeed, we are afraid of it. It is easier to remain mediocre than to heed this higher calling. It is easier to venerate others, than to realize this greatness in our lives ourselves!
You are Mary! You are chosen to give birth to God in this world!
It is fascinating to meditate differently on the biblical scene of the Annunciation against this background:
The angel comes to me and says to me: “Hail, full of grace, do not be afraid. For you shall conceive from God and bear Jesus into this world. And the Holy Spirit will come upon you. And if you do not consider yourself worthy or capable, for God nothing is impossible.” – And the angel awaits my answer: Can you say: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May be it done unto me according to your word”?
If YOU are Mary, then it is your life, it is your word in your mouth and your heart that says: “May it be done unto me according to your word”, as well as “Do whatever he tells you”.
Mary stands on the boundary of the First Testament to the New Testament. She still grew up in the old and is called into the new. The decision to take this step and to bear God into the world is her life.
This step also remains our challenge: to place ourselves at the disposal of giving birth to God, to be a God-bearer, theotokos, not just speaking about God, but “bearing” him.
For blessed are not the admirers on the outside, but those “who hear the word of God and do it”.
Fr. Helmut Scharler, SAC