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Monday, September 08, 2008

Fundamental Truth

If you ask me if we, as human beings, have forgotten our fundamental reason for existence, I would reply that we have not only forgotten but also, to a great extent, rejected it altogether.

When we follow our Christian tradition, we find a fundamental truth that takes us beyond all our cultures and human traditions which we tend to hold on to rather dearly. This truth, while undoubtedly Christian, does not claim its hold and grasp in the religion or faith that supports it but, rather exists on its own because it finds its identity in the mystery of the love and mercy of God.

The brilliance of the Genesis creation story gets us off on a good start to this understanding, namely that line which states, quite matter-of-factly, we are created in the "image and likeness" of God and all this done out of generative love (Gen 1:26 - 27, 9: 6). Paul in his letter to the Romans went further to point out that,"Ever since God created the world, God's everlasting power and deity - however invisible - have been there for the mind to see in the things God has made" (Rom 1: 20).

Now, if we, especially us Christians, would just try to believe what the OT writer and Paul is showing us, we would save ourselves thousands of dollars in therapy! When we really believe this fundamental truth and allow ourselves to soak in its implication, we will realize that our family of origin is divine, that our core is original blessing and not original sin. This then will tell us of a clear direction to go, for we have some place good to go home to. This is the good news that all the evangelists write/speak about. That's the meaning of the gospels!

Unfortunately, we sometimes give ourselves a bad name when we hold on to very negative views of humanity, with tragic starting points that says "total depravity" of the person and so on. This has led to some form of self-fulfilling prophecy where we become exactly what we feared might be true! Because of that, any good news would be unhearable (unbearable?) on the practical and human level.

This, then brings us to the celebration of the feast in the Church's calendar of The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Lady's birth and her subsequent role in God's continual creative plan in bringing about our soul's objective union with God, begins, in a small and almost insignificant way, this communication to reconnect people to their original identity "hidden with Christ in God" (Col 3: 3). St. Augustine connects Mary's birth with Jesus' saving work. He tells the earth to rejoice and shine forth in the light of her birth. As if to echo this sentiment, the opening prayer at Mass speaks of the birth of Mary's Son as the dawn of our salvation and asks for an increase of peace.

Today, God has a problem. He has great difficulty in giving Himself away. You would think everybody would want God. The opposite happens instead. We say that we are not worthy and would rather win the cosmic contest by our own efforts. A rebuff with a "thanks but no thanks!" attitude. However, the manner in which Our Lady handled the fundamental truth that was presented before her later, during the Annunciation goes against all forms of putting the cart (us) before the horse (God) and wanting to be in control. Mary did not even mentioned that she's not worthy. She just asked for clarification. She only asked "How" because that might ask something more of her. She never asked "if", "whether" or "why". Her answer in the Annunciation was an unquestioning yes to an utterly free gift.

Now, if we turn this around and say that the little woman in Nazareth had said and uttered that she was not worthy to carry that burden asked of her (like all other 'election' scene that had gone before her and also our own usual stock reply in this type of situation), I wouldn't be surprised the reply from the angel would be "Of course you are not! But that was never the question, anyway"...

(inspired from today's gospel and "Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality")

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