Saturday, December 8, 2012
Conception of the Theotokos by St Anna
For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.
Do we delight in the prosperity of others? Are we pained to discover that someone else possesses a gift or a talent that we would very much like to have, but do not? When we find out that whatever we most value about ourselves is likewise in someone else, and that they have it more perfectly than we do, is this for us a cause for joy, or is it a motive for malice?
When we consider the special gifts with which the Mother of God was endowed, from the very moment of her conception, it might be understandable, perhaps even pardonable, if the our gifts, the little that we seem to have, has been taken away, and that to the great deal she had from the start, a great deal more has been given. Where we might delight in a kind of innocence, the Virgin Mother of the Lord enjoys an innocence that stretches back to the moment she was first conceived in her mother Anna's womb. Where we might find a generous streak in ourselves, the Virgin displayed herself radically open to the grace of God and his invitation to bear the eternal Word in her womb. Where we may rejoice in the suffering we have received because of our love for Jesus Christ, she knew the keenness of a sword unlike any other that pierced her heart at the foot of the Cross. Where we may have a firm and certain hope in our resurrection to glory through the promises of the Risen Savior, she enjoys even now the fulness of her whole self, body and soul, united and glorified, in the presence of the all-holy Trinity.
It is certainly to be accepted that no other creature that was, is, or ever shall be, apart from the humanity of Jesus Christ, has occupied, occupies, or will ever occupy as glorious a place in God's Kingdom than the Theotokos, the Godbearer, the Mother of the Word Incarnate. Yet, that we cannot equal her in glory, in splendor, in majesty, nor for that matter in hearing the word of God and doing it, the gifts poured upon the Virgin ought not to be for us a cause either for despair or for tepidness in our faith. While it is always wrong to be grieved by the gifts of another, as this ought rightly to be a motive for our joy and thanksgiving, we can rightly be grieved that, upon reflection, we discover that we do not share in those gifts, that we are not as alive in the grace of Jesus Christ as we might be.
This is what the Immaculate Conception of the Theotokos ought to be for us. It should be an image both of our gratitude for what God has done to and for his Blessed Mother, and it should be a gentle goad for our own spiritual lives. It should stir us to ever more radical availability to the life of the Gospel, ever more prompt and generous returns for the good that God has given to us already. It is in this tireless and happily willing response to the grace of Jesus Christ already within us that will prove on the Last Day to be the measure more that will be bestowed on what we have. If we have little, if the Immaculate Conception of the Theotokos reminds us how little we have, let us then make good the time before us. Let us strive to return to the Lord a measure of love that we have received, and in that trying, find ourselves graced beyond our deepest longings.