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Friday of the Second Week of Advent: Mary, Perfect Image of Fruitfulness

Posted by Richard Rohr, OFM on 12/13/19 7:30 AM

Advent with Richard RohrO that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your prosperity would have been like a river, and your success like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.
—Isaiah 48:18–19

How do we also give birth, as Mary did?

We tend to manage life more than just live it. We are all overstimulated and drowning in options. We are trained to be managers, to organize life, to make things happen. That is what built our culture. It is not all bad, but if you transfer that to the spiritual life, it is pure heresy. It is wrong. It doesn’t work. It is not gospel. We might be economically rich but not spiritually fertile, as Isaiah teaches. If Mary was trustfully carrying Jesus during this time, it is because she knew how to receive spiritual gifts, in fact the spiritual gift. She is probably the perfect image of how fertility and fruitfulness break into this world.

We can’t manage, maneuver or manipulate spiritual energy. It is a matter of letting go and receiving what is being given freely. It is the gradual emptying of our attachment to our small self so that there is room for a new conception and a new birth. There must be some displacement before there can be any new “replacement”! Mary is the archetype of such self-displacement and surrender. If Jesus is the symbol of the gift itself and how God gives the gift, then Mary is the symbol of how the gift is received and treasured. Whatever God gives is always experienced as totally unearned grace and never as a salary, a reward or a merit badge of any sort.

In fact, if you do experience it that way, it is not from God and will not expand your heart, mind or soul.

There is no mention of any moral worthiness, achievement or preparedness in Mary, only humble trust and surrender. She gives us all, therefore, a bottomless hope in our own little state. If we ourselves try to “manage” God, or manufacture our own worthiness by any performance principle whatsoever, we will never bring forth the Christ but only ourselves. Mary does not manage, fix, control or “perform” in any way. She just says “yes!” and brings forth the abundance that Isaiah promises (“river,” “waves,” sands of the seashore). This is really quite awesome!

 

Reflect

How can you receive instead of manage life? How does managing give you a sense of importance? How does receiving give you a sense of unimportance?


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Topics: Richard Rohr, Advent, Christmas, Advent 2019