Grace: an intimate knowledge of our Lord, Who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.
Text for Prayer: Contemplation on the Incarnation, Spiritual Exercises no.101-109
Reflection: There’s an old saying that “truth is stranger than fiction”. Some things are just so unbelievable that we wouldn’t even imagine them if they didn’t actually happen. An infinite, omnipotent God becoming a finite, weak human being would have to fall into that category.
The ancient Greeks had a story about the creation of humans where there were five races, one after the other, each one worse than the one before it. The first four ended in different ways: some died out, some destroyed themselves violently, one was destroyed by Zeus for its impiety. The Greeks thought that eventually, things would get so bad that Zeus would have to destroy us, too. This goes to show what C.S. Lewis said about Christianity being a religion no one could have guessed up. The Greeks, for all their poetry, philosophy, and learning, never even imagined the possibility of the Incarnation. Zeus never took on human nature, just the appearance to disguise himself in order to seduce some maiden he found attractive. What we expected to happen was not even close to what actually occurred. The contrast between how we imagined the gods to respond to our actions vs. how the Trinity views us could not be sharper. We thought that the gods would destroy us for being so evil, but the Trinity thought us worth saving.
The Trinity looks down on us and sees our worst behavior, but still loves us and desires to save us. Gabriel and Mary likewise act out of love in their generous response to the Trinity. The Trinity looks at the world, literally going to Hell in a handbasket. Their response to put an end to the sin and evil in the world is not to send thunderbolts down to destroy us, but to send the Second Person of the Trinity among us to draw us closer to Themselves. And the Second Person will hold nothing back or keep anything from us, but give Himself totally to us, giving even His life.
However, it is never simply an issue of the Trinity acting alone. Just as Christ the King invited us to follow Him to conquer His Father’s enemies in the previous contemplation, so the Trinity invites Gabriel and Mary to co-operate in bringing about our salvation. The occurrence of the Incarnation was never a question of the love of the Trinity. It was a question of whether Gabriel and Mary would choose to participate in the saving work of the Trinity and give themselves fully to this work, even after Mary is promised that her heart would be “pierced by a sword” (Lk. 2:35).
The situation with us is much the same. The Trinity’s saving work both in us personally and through us for others is never a question of the Trinity’s love. The question is whether we have the love and generosity of Gabriel and Mary to co-operate in the Trinity’s project of salvation. Are we willing to accept Jesus into our lives as Mary did, and follow our King wherever He leads us? Even if, like Mary, we have to suffer numerous anguishes?
Questions: Do I look at the world as the Trinity does? When God asks something of me, do I respond with the same generosity as Mary? What is the reason that Mary is so completely generous in her response to the Trinity?