Monday, September 8, 2014

Larger context

One of the options for the first reading today as we celebrate Mary's birthday is the Romans 8 reading that begins, "all things work together for good..." As much as I love that verse I thought it was time to step back and look at the larger context in which St. Paul places it.

If we go to the beginning of chapter 8, we find that he looks at the world in terms of two laws: the law of the Spirit of Life, and the law of sin and death. Once we are in Christ (baptism), we are freed from the latter and only belong to the former.

For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death. For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do, this God has done

Today we celebrate the one person in human history who was given a share in the new life of grace before the death and resurrection of Christ. Beyond that, because of her unique role in God's plan, she was given a unique gift. She was preserved for the stain of original sin.

But even with all that, she had to grow; she had to mature. It is not our faith that she was born into the world with any special knowledge. She had to learn to walk and talk. She had to learn to choose. Having been freed from the stain of original sin did not take away her free will. If anything it made it freer.

St. Paul describes how even with God's grace we struggle daily.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.

Thankfully, after the death and resurrection of Jesus the Holy Spirit became available to all people. Again, St. Paul reminds us what it does.

In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

Today as we reflect on Mary as an infant, perhaps it is good to remember that most of us are still spiritually infants. We still have so much to learn, still have so much growing to do. We still understand only a tiny sliver of the Truth. The good news is that if we will allow it, the Spirit of Life will teach us, will guide us, and will even pray for us from within us.

The only way to move beyond our infancy is to accept it. Surrender. Acknowledge your ignorance. Acknowledge your helplessness. Then the wisdom will come.