Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Father Loved Us... And Then Exalted Order to Love Us Even More... in Jesus

The entire Bible, end to end, is a love story of God's relentless, and passionate love for us. And God stops at nothing to accomplish that which is our end: Our total union with him.

And God used creation and theophanies and covenants and miracles, and even his own stooping low -- to become one of us -- in order to make sure we did not miss the point.

And what's more, God chose to come through one of us in order to be born.  Think about that for one moment. The Savior of the World could have arrived without having to go through the bother of being born of flesh and blood. And yet... that's exactly the overwhelming sublime choice that the Lord of All made.

And so there was one more amazing and specific preparation that had to be made on our behalf... a woman was lovingly chosen to be the Savior's mother, and ultimately, ours. 

My guess is that if we were to really understand the reality of what it means to have a Heavenly Father who is Divine, besides sending his Son, God thought it might help us mere mortals to have a human Mother traveling alongside of us during our terrestrial journey until we meet Him in heaven. 

There's a line from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that is both wise and wonderfully tender when it describes Mary's Immaculate Conception... and it's place in the Father's plan. 

In order to bring us Jesus "the Father blessed Mary more than any other created person.... with every spiritual blessing... and chose her... to be holy and blameless before him in love. (CCC 492)"

My latest at Patheos unpacks the mystery that is the Immaculate Conception, and the careful, grace-filled, and loving preparation that God brought about in Mary's life:

Mary was the first person redeemed by Jesus by an application of the grace, from his victory over sin and death on the Cross. This requires us to think expansively – or bigger – beyond our own sensibilities, as it were, to consider the mysteries of God’s plan for salvation.
Christian scholar Blessed Duns Scotus (d. 1308) gives a name to this: preservative redemption. Preservative redemption addresses this question of Mary’s redemption taking place before her Son Jesus was even born. 
Mary’s conception and sanctification were simultaneous.
Theologically, it is this:  the unlimited God, the Creator of time, is also Lord over time. In other words, God can work outside of time.  And God applies his graces throughout history (time) as He deems fit.  Therefore, God, in his divine plan of salvation, willed that Mary would be saved first, in her humanity, by the application of the graces won for humanity by her Son, Jesus on the Cross.
Mary’s lifetime of preparation, living with a sinless, loving heart, equipped her to make the perfect response to the Angel when he announced God’s call on her life. (Read the rest here.)

What I love about Mary is that her immaculate heart is always at the service of the love of the Father and the Son, for it is wedded to the Holy Spirit... her heart is a human heart that fully trusts God in a way that is profoundly unique. For she is full of grace (cf. Luke 1:28), and her being proclaims the greatness of the Lord (cf Luke 1:46-47).  

What I also love about Mary is that she helps me to do the same... little by little, moment by moment... for I am an impossibly stubborn and silly child at times... and yet, even my feeble heart can stumble along enough to trust the One who loves me from all eternity... 

It's a crazy idea, really... that the Lord of All would be head over heels in love with us...

But writer-blogger-extraordinaire Elizabeth Scalia gets a great handle on what this really means:

What sort of God is this? A God who yields to a people who do not understand, and who -- like spoiled adolescents -- tell Him time and time again that they're not patient enough, not mature enough, just too darned human to put up with doing things His way, which is the way of wisdom?
This is remarkable, almost reckless love. This is a love so all-in-all, so unconditional, that it is willing to be not just vulnerable, but by human standards almost foolish in its boundless unconditional reality.
He makes the spousal promise: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
It is a promise, from a God who always keeps His promises, from a loving spouse who cannot do enough for us. And still, we find it so difficult to engage, and nearly impossible to trust.
This is the Greatest Paradox in a God who Is many paradoxes: It is only by surrendering what is broken within us, and that is trust, can we once again have trust.
Whole trust, unreserved trust is what resides within His Majesty, but we do not trust Him back. We did not trust in Eden, which is why we fell, and why we hid ourselves. But we cannot be whole, or wholly His, unless we give him that broken trust, by trusting Him.

Be sure to read the rest of Elizabeth's stirring article here.

Indeed, Advent is all about the great lengths that Our God goes to in order love us. Don't miss that. It should arrest and subdue our yearning hearts.


  1. Great reflection Pat. I love that bit from the Catechism too, and the idea of preservative redemption. And yes, we are so stubborn at times and yet so loved. Awesome quotes from Elizabeth too.

  2. I second Marc on your reflection Pat! May this Holy Day on December 8th (also the Patron of the Church in the United States) be one where we are truly grateful for Christ's work of redemption beginning even before He came to earth.

  3. Gentlemen,

    Thanks for you comments and your enthusiasm for Our Lady! Happy Adventing! Go teach it, brothers!

  4. This is a very good post. I truly like the reflections.


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