Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The risk of trust

The almost embarrassingly common recurrence of barren women in the Old Testament is a brilliant metaphor for “I can’t do it, but God can—and will!” This is summed up and personified in the Virgin Mary, but it is still the same Jewish symbol. In Mary, and in us, we see our own incapacity to make spiritual things happen by our own devices, by our own intelligence, and with our own bodies, but we can receive, trust, and allow God to do it in us and through us.

Many translations of Luke’s Magnificat use the wonderful phrase “God has regarded me in my lowliness” (Luke 1:48). This French-based word regardez means to look at twice, or look at again, or look at deeply. Mary allows herself to be looked at with God's deeper and more considered gaze. When we do that, God’s eyes always become more compassionate and merciful. And so do ours if we regard anything.

The reflection above was written by Richard Rohr and it seems to tie in with the idea  I've been pondering this year of  Advent as teaching us about our dependence on God. Mary is often depicted as  passive in a rather sappy looking way, which is strange as anyone who accepts the commission she does would have to be made of pretty tough stuff. Preparedness or receptiveness is not quite the same as passivity but is rather about openess, and part of that is openess to intimacy with God, openess to change and to transformation. “The Incarnation”, has been described as, “not only the work of the Father, of His Power and His Spirit: it was also the work of the will and the faith of the Virgin” (St. Nikolas Cabasilas). And so for us as well, reliance upon God is not a spineless passivity but rather  a conscious act which engages us heart, mind and soul and involves courage and risk.


  1. Excellent post. Thanks for the Richard Rohr quote - very helpful.

  2. Thanks for this, Sue, a lot to ponder. Rohr is so thought-provoking isn't he? I've spent a fair few Advent sermons making just your point about Mary as strong and courageous, not weak and passive, and a great role model.

  3. Thanks for sharing, lot's to think about.