Dec 16, 2008

There's something MORE about Mary

Jeff made such a great comment on my previous post about Mary that I absolutely have to follow-up with another post. I had wanted to blog something about Joseph before Xmas, but we'll see. His comment deserves full repetition so here it is:

Yeah, I'm okay with my Catholic brothers and sisters believing in Mary's perfection. But for me, it screws with my head in terms of my acceptance God's grace. Do I have to be perfect first to be imputed with His grace?

For me, a mere mortal Mary gives me hope that I can "carry" Christ in an imperfect vessel albeit one filled with imputed grace.

And it doesn't diminish Mary's faith or sacrifice. In fact, what kind of faith does a flawless human need? I'm perhaps too simple. I only have room for one spotless One.

As for me, I am hopelessly flawed. I'm probably one of those vessels used for "ignoble purposes." (2 Tim. 2:20) Paul may have had me in mind when he made reference to such household items. For example, I think I rank along side the chamber pot. Useful but stinky most of the time.

You're so right!! Seriously, check this out ... the issue became much easier for me when I realized I was projecting my own hopelessly flawed vessel onto Mary. But here we've confused cause and effect ...

Mary was not perfect and then imputed with God's full grace - she is, from conception, imputed with God's full grace so that she can be perfect. Likewise, she is not flawless and searching for faith - she is flawless because the fullness of God's grace in her gave her perfect faith.

Personally, I find it inspiring and encouraging that there is a fellow creature with such capacity for God's grace and such total faithful submission to His will. Jesus was a fully spotless man (formed from this fully spotless woman), but Jesus was also fully God - something none of us creatures will ever experience. And creation has been replete with other variously-spotted saints with whom we can easily relate our flaws. In all of the world, Mary is the only mere mortal to be purely spotless.

That's why I'm starting to really revere Mary - she is, by God's design, a restoration of the un-cracked eikon, as perfect as any of us mere creatures can be; she is the second Eve. Not by her own merit, but by God's grace, with which she carried, firstly, Christ's merit into the world. And yet she's one of us on a very personal level. So much so that I can relate her to my own grandmother.

So now I indulge in the opportunity to ask this Blessed Woman to pray to her son for me.


Saint said...

Dag nabbit Luke, pre-empting my commenting like that! Of course, it would help if I actually read the new post first, save me some ink and all. :P

Jeremy Fincher said...

Put another way, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception preserves the *pure gratuitousness* of God's grace. "Do I have to be perfect first to be imputed with His grace?" is a response which proceeds from a profound misunderstanding of the doctrine, since it assumes the exact opposite of what Mary's example shows: that God gives His grace purely gratuitously, before Mary ever had a chance to earn it.

Mary's example is similar to that of Jacob and Esau in Romans 9: she was chosen before she was born or had done anything good or bad. If God chooses to give the honor of bringing Him into the world to someone who hadn't ever even tried to do good, how much more will He bestow grace on those of us who through thick and thin still try to do good?