|Everybody's Got One
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Wednesday, July 17, 2002
From the Intercessions for Vespers of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Carmel, in the Secular Carmelite supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours:
You said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe,”
May we with Mary, blessed for her believing, cling to you with all our might as we journey through this night of faith, and never cease to believe in your love for us.
There is a hint here of something I have long suspected – that the risen Christ never physically appeared to his mother during the forty days before the Ascension. Scripture is silent on this, as on so many things, but pious traditions say that of course he showed himself to his mother, like the good son he was. One even claims that Mary saw him first of all, waiting confidently outside the tomb in the glimmerings of predawn, before even the Magdalen. After all, it’s only natural – and our ways are assuredly God’s ways.
I’m not so sure about that.
Paul has a long and presumably exhaustive list of post-Resurrection appearances in I Corinthians that doesn’t include Mary – not proof of a negative, but suggestive. Jesus has a couple of pointed comments about his mother in the gospels – Blessed rather are they that hear the word of God and do it prominent among them – and Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe sure sounds similar. To show himself to so many, and not to her, after having given her away on the cross to the Beloved Disciple – this could be the sword Simeon spoke of so many years earlier. Popular piety claims this was watching the crucifixion, but there are worse things for a mother even than the death of a child. Like repudiation.
The dark night of the soul that John of the Cross describes, and the prayer makes glancing reference to, comes when God absents himself from you, and from your sight. He is no longer present as he has been, and the task for you in this predictable – and perhaps necessary – station along the spiritual path is to remain faithful, to learn to trust God in his absence, to continue to listen for the still, small voice that hovers just beyond the threshold of hearing. To know that though he is unreachably far from us now, we will see him next at the moment of our death when he welcomes us – just as Mary our mother and model did.
I think the Carmelites are hinting at something about our relationship with God that most of us would rather not learn. Or so it seems to me. posted by Kelly | 3:57 PM link