As I was preparing to teach Section 1 of Pope Benedict’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, I read his striking words on how Mary play’s such an important part in knowing the deep realities of the Word of God. It is through her “Yes” that we come to know Jesus Christ and it is through her “Yes” that the new covenant begins. From the Annunciation to Pentecost Sunday, Mary is the obedient woman of faith always seeking and ready to do the will of God. She is open and prepared to hear the Word of God in her heart and mind.
As Catholics, we should always be striving to be more like Mary and her Fiat (“Yes”) towards God. The Church is first Marian before she is Petrine. Hans Urs von Balthasar said, “Before men were placed into office, the whole Church was present in Mary.” The Marian dimension allows the Petrine to exist in the Church.
I suggest you read and pray through the words of Pope Benedict XVI. He opens our hearts and minds to Mary and her relationship to the Word of God as he says,
“In our day the faithful need to be helped to see more clearly the link between Mary of Nazareth and the faith-filled hearing of God’s word. I would encourage scholars as well to study the relationship between Mariology and the theology of the word. This could prove most beneficial both for the spiritual life and for theological and biblical studies. Indeed, what the understanding of the faith has enabled us to know about Mary stands at the heart of Christian truth. The incarnation of the word cannot be conceived apart from the freedom of this young woman who by her assent decisively cooperated with the entrance of the eternal into time. Mary is the image of the Church in attentive hearing of the word of God, which took flesh in her. Mary also symbolizes openness to God and others; an active listening which interiorizes and assimilates, one in which the word becomes a way of life.
Here I would like to mention Mary’s familiarity with the word of God. This is clearly evident in the Magnificat. There we see in some sense how she identifies with the word, enters into it; in this marvelous canticle of faith, the Virgin sings the praises of the Lord in his own words: ‘The Magnificat – a portrait, so to speak, of her soul – is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the word of God; the word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.’
Furthermore, in looking to the Mother of God, we see how God’s activity in the world always engages our freedom, because through faith the divine word transforms us. Our apostolic and pastoral work can never be effective unless we learn from Mary how to be shaped by the working of God within us: ‘devout and loving attention to the figure of Mary as the model and archetype of the Church’s faith is of capital importance for bringing about in our day a concrete paradigm shift in the Church’s relation with the word, both in prayerful listening and in generous commitment to mission and proclamation.’
As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives. Every Christian believer, Saint Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God: ‘even though there is only one Mother of Christ in the flesh, in the faith Christ is the progeny of us all. Thus, what took place for Mary can daily take place in each of us, in the hearing of the word and in the celebration of the sacraments.’
If you have been reading “Mondays with Mary” over the weeks in September, October, and November, you would have seen what Pope Benedict XVI asks for in this section. He says, “I would encourage scholars as well to study the relationship between Mariology and the theology of the word. This could prove most beneficial both for the spiritual life and for theological and biblical studies.”
By no means am I a biblical scholar, but I have tried to provide my readers with an understanding between Mariology and the theology of the word in the blog posts about Mary in the Old Testament and New Testament. If you have not read these previous posts, it’s my hope that you can read them soon.
Mary’s role in Salvation History is fundamentally important for the life of the Church, however, her role in relation to the Word of God is just as important. Next time you read the Scriptures on our own, read them in the daily missal at Mass, or just listen to them at Mass, ask that the Blessed Mother help you to take the Word of God to your heart and say – “Yes!”