Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mary associated with the work of salvation

Mary, the Mother of God, plays a key role in the salvation of creation, in the salvation of all humans. Her position in Christianity is key. That is why everyone speak about her, pray to her and ask for her intercessions. Being our Mother, we examine her life and her role in our salvation. This is exactly what Elisabeth Behr-Sigel does in her book The Ministry of Women in the Church. Below is her argument, showing that she is not only the model for women but the model for all of us.

‘. . . By associating Mary with the work of salvation, the Lord did not however simply use her as a passive instrument. Likewise, she is not simply the personification of maternity as a biological function. The Orthodox tradition in particular has always insisted on the liberty of Mary’s fiat, a liberty that is the inalienable image of God in humanity. It is this image of God, inalienable but darkened by sin, that, according to the grace of God and the divine pedagogy, shines anew in the Mother of God. This is why she is the seed and the image of the Church, of humanity saved in hope. She is not therefore just “the womb that bore” Jesus and “the breast that” he “sucked” (Lk 11:27). . . Mary is the one who heard the word of God and kept it (Lk 11:28) and who “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). Seen in this light, Mary is by no means the model only for women. She is the image neither of a submissive and obedient femininity, in conformity with a certain cultural stereotype, nor of an ideally beautiful human femininity, according to the aesthetic canon of a given age. . . Mary is both a woman and a human person as well as the inheritor of the women and prophetesses of the Old Testament, of Miriam, Deborah, Anne and Houlda who are associated with her in some ancient prayers for the consecration of deaconesses. She personifies human liberty restored, delivered from the ancient slavery, according to divine grace and looking forward to the Incarnation of the Son of God. In her, because she welcomed the Word, “he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree” (the Magnificat, Lk 1:52). Mary is the figure of human hope already on the road to realization. She walks ahead of us all as the typos of Christ-bearing (christophoros) humanity because she bears the Spirit (pneumatophoros): humanity gratia plena, purified, fruitful, sanctified by Christ and the Spirit. Her unique and personal maternity, whose dignity, however, falls on the most humble human maternity, receives by this fact a universal meaning. In her, the new humanity has the characteristics of a woman.’ (pp. 59-60).           

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