Unscrambling the Bad Dialogue

Miscommunication-Cartoon“Lost in translation” is a sometimes nightmare in the art of diplomacy.  Either a message is incomplete or, even worse, fear or hostility emerges from the recipient. In dialogue across the religious spectrum there is the matter of wide gaps on some concepts in the languages as well as cultural nuances. 

One case of this can be found in the last 500 years between Catholics and Protestants.  As I have written before, Catholics are misunderstood on when they are speaking in definitive theological intent on wording and those times that are metaphorically spoken.  An example is when the metaphorical wording is implying how Mary has a distinct holiness but means it as extrinsically obtained. 

Ironically, the modern Protestants may even misunderstand the original Reformer fathers.  For instance, when I was evangelizing recently in a Catholic ministry a fiery Protestant emphasized sola gratia (grace alone).   That does tie back to Martin Luther.  However, he maintained a work of grace to be baptismal regeneration which the modern, zealous Reformed Christian would not ascribe to. 

More specifically on the translation is the Latin to English post-Reformation divide with an example like “holy”.  When a Protestant hears of a pope being referred to as “his Holiness”,they may perceive that Catholics see the pope as internally based in his holiness.  This is not true as one can see with an example of when Pope Francis was asked, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergolio?”   He answered that he is a sinner. 

To see this linguistically one can see the Latin root word santus.  It morphed into cognates that sound similar in the more blatant Latin based languages like Spanish and Portuguese for both holy as in Holy Spirit as well as saints.  While the former, holiness is intrinsic but for the latter, it is because they know they are sinners at the same time and wanted sanctification. 

Next is how “prayer” is used as an operative term in casual or fully theological conversation.   When Shakespeare writes, “Make haste, I pray then” we give him the benefit of the doubt that one mortal is not worshiping another mortal.  In modern language in a petition to a court undergirded by English common law the petitioner says they “pray this court…..” would do such and such.  Again, the judge is not being worshipped. 

So to with how Catholics or Eastern Orthodox pray to the saints.  They ask their intercession and the context is Christ centered.  The dilemma is that Catholics and Protestants in English have their wording quirks and in at least one direction there is a lack of benefit of the doubt in examining the written or spoken word.  When one is biased towards a person or group in examining their characteristics, the traits that confirm what is expected will be seen and the traits that counter what is expected are dismissed.  This is called confirmation bias. 

Another word that blurs the communication is “merit”.  Protestants often have taught that Catholics believe they get merit for salvation through their works.  The confusion is fueled in part about the Catholic Church due to the etymology of the word. 

In the second century, the Latin word meritum (“merit”) was introduced as a translation for the Greek word for “reward”, and so entered the theological vocabulary.  The doctrine of merit [Catholics] and the doctrine of reward [Protestants] are two ways of expressing the same concept (The Fathers Know Best, Jimmy Akin). 

In the 5th and 6th centuries the Catholic Church condemned Plagiarism and Semi-Plagianism which was a heresy that taught one could earn salvation with works absent of grace.  Later the Catholic Church stated “none of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification; for if it is by grace, it is not now by works; otherwise, as the apostle says, grace is no more grace” (Decree on Justification 8, Council of Trent). 

But sometimes, a good translation happens.   In 1999 there was the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification which included Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later known as Pope Benedict VI).  They collaborated, looked through the history with cooler heads than some of the hotheads of both sides 500 years ago and said ,“By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part,” its key passage said, “we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping us and calling us to good works.” We are called to a life where faith is working through love (Galatians 6:5). 

For Jesus’ prayer of unity in the Body of Christ (John 17:21) to be realized, we owe it to our Lord to listen better and pray more.  As brothers and sisters redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we owe it to each other too.

At the time I write this, I went to an event in the John 17 movement last night.  It is a touchstone for good dialogue and prayer for each other.  That is not all of the work, but honoring what unites us is a start. 

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Conversion to The Fundamental Good

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Flash in the pan experience can take us only so far if we want to change the fundamental things in us.  We have to go deeper for it to matter.  Transitions that matter for the person have to go from the inside out.

For two disciples of John the Baptist there were two days of transition that were ending one time of discipleship and getting ready for another.  They saw the baptism of Jesus but for whatever reason following Jesus was not meant to happen that very day though much was illuminated about him.  But for them a conversion of heart began.

But the next day, like many who hear the gospel and understand it, is a time of action to make conversion real or inaction that makes it all like a goose-bump that fades.

 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon (John 1:35-38).

Look, the Lamb of God!– -Just like the passover lamb was the game changer in the time of Moses, so from this point forward everything changes.  And just like the time of Moses where the lamb had to be consumed in all, so Jesus must be received fully. Jesus is being pointed to as one who would in fact give of himself fully.  Such giving seems foolish to the world.

What do you want?– – Jesus asks them something that could be considered a test.  Their response can say a lot of what they are looking for in light of the teaching they already had. When God draws us to himself in the context of initial or ongoing conversion, it is fitting to reflect of what we want and if it really matters.

Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?– – They come to Jesus on the right terms in obedience and are teachable to the Teacher.  This is what matters.  What is more, by asking the “Rabbi” where he is staying they want more than a quick answer but to abide, metaphorically, in the schoolhouse.

But coming to God with the requests that matter and are thus consistent with his nature is also a partnership initiated by God the Father.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. (John 6:44-45)

Come, and you will see– – – Unlike many other times, Jesus does not answer the questions with a question.  This could be seen as a matter of the simplest questions being the best ones generally.

To fully understand what is being covered here, consider the beautiful things in life that are appreciated in themselves.  If I take out my keys, and one asks why, I answer that I am going to my car.  Asked more, I could say which freeway.  If I finally say that I am going to have coffee with my daughter, the question why would not make sense.  This is because certain things, the fundamental goods, are without need of being put in a definable box.  If Jesus was just somebody to do business with, then the meaning is dry. But this beautiful movement forward is both greatness in the person and a dynamic of the Holy Trinity at work. Jesus is The Fundamental Good and fellowship is an end in itself.

they went and saw-  Taking these verses, one could think this is a small real estate story.  But, considering they were sent off to “behold the Lamb of God” we can see these disciples took in that day something deeper about him.  Ideally, the ongoing process of the believer is to keep your eyes open to God.  This is where the believer stays in a state of purity.  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).  It is not seeing God’s plan but seeing God.  Again, God is the Fundamental Good.

they stayed with him that day— To experience the passover lamb in the Old Testament is not a fast food experience but is communal.  What we see here are the apostles John and Andrew coming to the man they call Teacher and connecting with him in a meeting of dwelling.  The natural follow up for the convert is to join Jesus where he is and stay there.

There is something to be said about joining Jesus such as in the context of prayer: It is normal.  That is to say, much of the lifestyle of being a Christian that has a relationship is not sensational.  The day before this narrative was sensational.  Some heard a voice and some perceived the Holy Spirit to come down on Jesus as a dove.  But to an uninformed eye, these were just three men that were under the same roof, likely sharing a meal and talking.  No flash and no snappy one liners.

On the hour of their decision to follow Jesus they believed with obedience in coming to to him, inquired, saw and stayed.  Coming to Jesus is nice, staying is everything.  Getting a quick question answered gives knowledge.  But dialogue with Jesus grants wisdom.  Such dialogue we can have today if we just ask and immerse ourselves in the presence of the Lord.  The reader may ask if it is an audible voice to which I would say that is not necessary.  This is because today and every day we can approach Jesus while Jesus approaches us and that is an end in itself.  Jesus can be our Fundamental Good- – if we let Him.

It’s A Wonderful “Wasted” Life

Old Woman SmileNobody wants to waste their life.  By wasting ones life I mean not grasping those dreams that are natural to the gifts you have and of the desire of the heart.  For some people they see their life as wasted because a tragedy has come upon them.  For others they see their life as wasted because they gave up time for someone or something that was not worth it in the sense that there was no return on the investment.  This could apply to toxic relationships or to addictions that for too long are on the same day to day level in priority as eating, sleeping, breathing and shelter.

But sometimes there is a perspective from the outside in when observing someone that has lived below their means and far from the gifts and amenities that could so be grasped.  Someone goes to jail for months or years because of a righteous cause in standing up for the oppressed.  I heard of a monk who did not have the money to redeem a slave along with the slave’s brother and so took the slave’s place.  What “a waste” if one looks at that with classist values.

But what about God’s point of view looking at unselfish sacrifice?  Is it a waste or an investment with a return far above earthly riches?  Such is the case for an old widow named Anna.  The view of the author and, by extension God, becomes quite clear and beautiful in shedding light on the subject.

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,  and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.  And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

There was also a prophetess—  As the story pivots from old Simeon, who prophesied, to Anna it is mentioned that she is a prophetess.  I perceive this as an emphasis for several reasons.  One is that Luke frequently writes with narratives that create gender balance.  If you see the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain you must also notice the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus.  Second, Anna seems to have provided  a testimony of the nature of God and his plan of redemption by her past lifestyle of dedication that then launches her to declare things in words.  It is like talking the talk is worthwhile only when you have walked the walk.

She never left the temple— By the time we get to this line, we see her life in the temple as all she had.  For her to be widowed after seven years and then go into the temple implies that she was barren and without children from that marriage.  There was no law against her being remarried and I am not aware of a practice of kidnapping women and being forced to live a nun-like existence against her will.  She chose God’s temple to be her all in all.

but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer— And here we see the beautiful note of her will and where she chose her will to be centered.  She was a worshiper.  As I contemplate the infancy narratives which drawn open hearts to worship God in Christmas, we should remember that worship to God is best in simplicity.  Though not everyone is called to live a dedicated religious life, those who do it shine a light to God that illuminates his glory and in the hearts of those who see it and are open.

And coming forward at that very time— This makes the scene very much church though they did not know it as such.  She steps in on the coat-tails of Simeon’s  prophesy that carries with it glory and suffering.  She comes in as a second prophetic speaker in this spontaneous congregation of Jesus and is a second witness (like the Pauline pattern of 1 Corinthians 14) to confirm that this was far more than a circumcision of baby boy but the sneak peak of the Messiah.

she gave thanks to God—- If we blink we will miss it.  If she did not have an attitude of worship of those years it would be “Thanks for nothing!” but instead it is a matter of knowing that all those years of service to God mattered and she knew supernaturally what for in someway as she saw the New Temple held by parents in the Old Temple (cf. John 2:18-22).

and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem—- This is rich too.  God’s message is one of hope but is to be discerned supernaturally.  Once discerned and internalized how does one not declare it to those who you are in contact with?

The message of this story is that God care about you.  He wants to be your hope but to experience the superabundance of grace one needs to be where God has called them, worship with all of life and leave the payoff to God.  It could be five years in, at the age of 84 or in heaven.  But the point is that if you gain Christ, you gain everything.  Anna’s five minutes in the presence of Jesus was enough.  Is it yours?

Both Sides of The Mountain

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I used to love a show on CBS called “Picket Fences”.  It was set in a small town in Wisconsin.  It had drama and comedy with lots of social issues covered that represented the cultural dialogue at that time.  One TV critic at the time referred to the small town of Rome, Wisconsin as a “microcosm” of a larger culture.  One might compare it to a lab except there were real feelings involved.

When people think of church in a small level, for better or worse, they may see it a microcosm of the common culture but lose sight if they see it only as a social gathering.  Church is meant to be a place where heaven and earth meet. Not because it looks nice nor gives the members goosebumps.  A gathering of people in the name of God is always to point to Jesus and his higher purposes including where two or three are gathered in his name.

Gathering for higher purposes in the Old Testament was considered a solemn assembly.  One who said they loved God did not want to miss the event.  It was their everything.  It was the qahal.  When the Old Testament was translated into Greek in 200 BC an assembly was known as ekklesia.  That Greek word was then used again in the New Testament to what we translate now as church.

Which brings us to another theme about church by the time the New Testament events occurred: church was about being called out to something.  The Greeks would refer the a small democratic town leaving the village to a nearby forest for a vote on what we might call a ballot measure.  the “ek” was the out of.  This comes to mind where we read in the Bible where God tells his people to come out and be separate for the world.  The highest point for an assembly is to be consecrated in some way.

As for the aspects of consecration and reason for a group to have the called out characteristics,  one would need to broaden their perspective to know what to look for.   Such a perspective would be informed by how the New Testament is concealed in the Old, and the Old is revealed in the New (Augustine).

Below are some of the broader elements of church in God’s eye that are worth considering. Consider it a “Picket Fences” but of the community of God to look for.

 No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly [church] of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect,  and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:22).

Mount Zion—  When there is Zion, there is David.  Jesus was called the Son of David because he has a kingdom that is modeled after David and how his dynasty was established and flourished.  His dynasty in the sense ended eventually but where fulfilled in Jesus it does not.

..the living God— God is alive and not an idol.  He is not subject to man’s desire to make him in man’s image.  We know from Adam and Eve that however he did it we are formed unto him.

..the heavenly Jerusalem—– Heaven is where you go to for Jesus the King and Jesus the High Priest.  And going there one does to some extent when they are in prayer with other believers.

countless angels in festal gathering—- Angels are God’s way of delegating heavenly power and authority to those who will inherit salvation.  The are a part of Christian fellowship whether one can seem them with the carnal eye or not.  I can add my own anecdote that my first time as an adult going to mass there was not a doubt in my mind that there were angels there.

the assembly [church] of the firstborn enrolled in heaven— This would be called the communion of the saints.  Those who are in heaven and witness to our running the race of faith and also who intercede for us under the merits of Jesus (Revelation 5:8).  The Church Triumphant is who we are “surrounded by a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1).

and God the judge of all— This is not a bad thing.  God is a judge who gives us a chance to reap the benefits of discipline.  This was covered earlier in Hebrews 12 on how much we can submit in discipline to the “father of our spirits and live”.  God is judge and father.  It is a paradox but not a contradiction.

and the spirits of the just made perfect—  This state is referred to as the Church Suffering or Purgatory.  For further scriptures on this I recommend the fire references of 1 Corinthians 3 and 2 Maccabees 12:24.

and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel—-  An important distinction in Greek is that “and” often can be translated as “with”.  I would point out that this description of church ends on the highest note:  pointing to the saving nature and work of Jesus.

Most or all of these characteristics can be found in the scenes I refer to as “micro- church”  or just Church-Church.  The important thing to note is that the advancing kingdom of God has an aspect that transcends what we can measure with our senses but still is true for God. As one looks at the passages of the New Testament before Jesus is fully appreciated for who he was by those who knew him, the traits are there.  This is why for them then and in modern times we need eyes to see and ears to hear.

A prime example for one who could see the kingdom of God for all it is as part of long-term called out community of God was someone who was “full of grace”.  This is why the first “micro-church” I will address is Mary of Nazareth.  For a teenage girl, she had a lot to say because she was “full of grace” and was a daughter of Zion.  I can hardly wait.

Fasting For Fans

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Last blog I talked about sandwiches in Matthew.  Points A and C seem to be related but Point B does not unless you look closely.  For some time I have been covering the Lord’s Prayer but before that I covered the part of Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount that was about giving in secret so that your Father in heaven will reward you in secret.

What happens here after Jesus’ teaching of the Lord’s Prayer is about fasting in secret with the likewise same reward.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6:16-18).

I tend to get curious through my lens as a linear thinking European American on why Jesus would not repeat the pattern one after another rather than an interuption on how to pray.  What could be the method to either Jesus’ speaking style or the editorial pacing of Matthew the author?

Well one thing that is covered in the Lord’s Prayer is the issue of sustenance regarding “daily bread”.  If one sees daily bread coming first from God, it changes the scenario on how we fast because we acknowledge God as the center of our provision.

Another benefit to having the Lord’s Prayer introduced to the reader before this fasting in secret reference is that the body is more tied to worship.  Jesus prays “..who are in heaven, hallowed be thy name”.

Another aspect is God calling disciples to exercise a spiritual discipline with the following paradox: look good while mortifying the flesh. The call of the disciple was described in the words of John the Baptist well as “He must increase and I must decrease”.  By fasting one is sending a signal to God and their own soul a dependence on God in our most basic carnal need.  We can appreciate this through the help of Paul who wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).

Speaking of basic, one can draw a spiritual lesson from Abraham Maselow.  From his hierearchy of needs we see how hard it is to have a sense of belonging if our basic needs (food, water, shelter) are not met.  Spiritualiy we can take a sort of old fashioned snap shot and see through a negative image that by denying ones self in taking the Lordship of God personally our sense of belonging to all that matters really increases.  Through the mindset that Jesus is teaching smacks against any carnal desire to have congradulations from men on your spiritualness.  Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” Admiration from people is fine if it happens by happenstance.  But to make the spiritual practice about the people’s power to define you is socially based idolatry.  It is a sin and Jesus lays down a standard that is not to be dismiised by the Pharasees of the day.  Since Jesus is the same always, such humility on the practice of fasting stands for us still.

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).  First God’s favor and then man.  The call for us as we ponder this passage in our hearts is checking our motivations.  What is stopping us?

A Mass Mess

A Mass Mess

A recent mass I went to could qualify as a mess.  My 6-year old son was with me and a few things happened during it that could qualifty as disruptive.  Such an afront to order says the ordered self that “knows best”.

First there was someone behind us making hello noises and then blurting out happy noises.  It was distracting a bit and required some explanation from me.

Secondly someone came up at the end of the mass when the priest, deacon and readers  were doing the recessional.  The man fell on his knees, did a semi-face plant on the lower alter and cried vigorously with his arms enfolded.  He had a pony tail and was wearing shorts.  He looked like one of “those people” like from Sons of Anarchy.

If that was not enough of a mess a young woman with an Eastern European veil came and knelt next to him and made him comfortable as a fellow sinner.  I was left with even more to explain to my son who I am instructing in revering the Lord.

Please understand that I used wording above that was absurd to make a point.  We need messes in church like that.  My explanation about the woman behind us was that she had a different kind of head that most people and was worshiping Jesus they way she knew how.  The man on the alter may have been outside of traditional decorum standards but I suspected he was getting right with God in his understaning and the best he knew how.  The woman that knelt next to him reinforced that she also understood the depth of God’s mercy and that this man could find spiritual restoration in the context of community.

Pope Francis ended a homily recently telling the believers to, “Go out and make a mess”.  This, is something baptized Christians should be drawn to do.  We may need to stretch our hearts and minds but such messes like what happened in this mass are what is needed.  Have you come to Jesus?  Great!  Jesus said to His first disciples about where He dwelt, “Come and see”.  But do not forget that the last words to the disciples were, “Go into the world and make disciples…” and if by the grace of God the world comes into the church, warts and all, then so be it.  Pray for their formation and dignity as a person God created one moment at a time, one day at a time.

One other lesson is this: after seeing the even by the alter I was a mess.  Disruptive liquid came out of my eyes knowing that I am a sinner and appreciating the inexhaustible love of God is needed for me just as much and I was soaking it in.  In my best wording I could use I summarized what happened to my son.  If this message is formed in my kids’ lives just right, I hope that they are someday a mess and make many too.

A Reflection On Will–Reboot

Cooperation

Do to some different personal variable that have happened in my life the last few weeks, this is my first time that I have wanted to do editing of a post after it is posted.  Call it a lesson for me in humility since I like to leave my work alone when I have supposedly “figured it out”.  Nevertheless, I hope that this is an encouragement to those who read the first version and those new to my writing.

It is no small thing to figure out what God’s will is, even  a piece of it, and go forward in life in accordance with it.  I might compare it to eating an elephant: one bite at a time.

Assuming the hearers know what the will of God is, Jesus includes this in the teaching of “The Our Father”.  What is more, Jesus teaches the hearers to ask for it to be done as follows.

“Your kingdom come.

Your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

The concept of God’s will being done should be understood first that God is love.  The first way to misunderstand what God’s will is is having a wrong premise of how He is love.  The type of love God is in the Greek is “Agape” which is divine, unlimited, unselfish love and always in the context of giving.  Even in the trinity the members defer to one another in an eternal loop.  Just looking at John 3:16 we see, “God so loved the world that He sent…” you likely know the rest.  Within the communion of the Trinity the Father initiates and the Son reciprocates and the Holy Spirit proceeds always from both (the ancient word for this was the Filioque).  Time does not exist for these three Who’s of The Divine What.  This love with deference for the other two is in an eternal “now”.  And thus the identity of “The I AM”.

But the world we live in is not made of agape.  It is made of eros.  Eros could be translated as, “I love you..based on what I can get out of you”.  With this is a blindness so par for the course with sin.  It is to instead defer to ones instant gratification so much that when Jesus comes on the scene their hatred was considered from the blindness of their hearts and because their deeds were evil.  The evil deeds were part of a perpetual cycle of self-love that costs everything of a soul.  Jesus pinpointed on this about “gaining the world but losing your soul”.

So with that in mind, God wants to remedy this situation with creation coming into that communion as described above which is His will.  How has this been explored?

1:  All man’s effort.  Work for it in the midst of vague hints and the spiritual elite are full of the stuff to ascend to that.  This does not work because God is love and does not create people to be elitists.  This is why Plegianism was condemned at the papal level in the 400’s.

2:  God coerces.  This would be God blowing our socks off by interupting life everywhere and every way.  This would be so imposing that the independent will of the individual is hampered and faith stops being a substance.

3: The still small voice of God in universal truth with a universal message with a universal community in mind that works in cooperation with God’s will.  Though I appreciate my conversions experience to Jesus as a boy knowing Him as my, “personal Lord and Savior”, this is only a start.  God has a message of his will for salvation through a still, small voice but as Lord and Savior for the world the megaphone of the announcement of salvation is through the Catholic Church.  Through such a community God would use people in cooperation with Him.    When integrating The Magesterium, Tradition and Scripture, it shines bright as, “the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

But how does cooperation with God’s will look for the individual? In the history of God redeeming the world there were important people with sin and they cooperated imperfectly.

Until you come to Mary of Nazareth.  She says, “Let it be done to me according to your word” in context of being told she would bear the Son of God.  She had been so filled with grace that there was not room for anything else: namely sin.  By her faith and work she is the “Mother of God” (Council of Ephesus, 431).

The conception happened in the context of her having been filled with grace unto a work of cooperation.  Are you filled with grace now?  Can you be?  Ask and see how God could call you in your own unique way to carry the grace and truth realized in Jesus Christ into the world around you.  You could lose the world, but gain your soul living fearlessly in holiness.

But another important point from the turning point person in salvation history is the simple message of Mary when speaking to the servants preparing the way for Jesus to change water to wine, “Do whatever He tells you”. We can do the former and declare the latter.

I have only addressed somewhat where we can come to a knowledge of God’s will and exhort others to His will but the heart of abiding and interceding in Christ is where both meet.  We abide as we “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:19) and are scandalized because our deeds are evil.  But if in humility and grace we get past that, the scandalous Christ on the cross becomes our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) and such an engrafted word of God will save our souls (James 1:21). It is perhaps because the wild ride of faith is so examplified through Mary that Jesus said to John on the cross, “Behold your mother” as she knew God as Savior connecting to our redemption.  The Father meet us in the process.

“How much more reason have we sinful creatures to learn obedience – we who in him have become children of adoption. We ask our Father to unite our will to his Son’s, in order to fulfill his will, his plan of salvation for the life of the world. We are radically incapable of this, but united with Jesus and with the power of his Holy Spirit, we can surrender our will to him and decide to choose what his Son has always chosen: to do what is pleasing to the Father (Catechism of The Catholic Church 2825).

The further we go in such union, the more in line we are in God’s purposes until salvation for the world is our highest prayer.    “Consider how Jesus Christ teaches us to be humble, by making us see that our virtue does not depend on our work alone but on grace from on high. He commands each of the faithful who prays to do so universally, for the whole world. For he did not say “thy will be done in me or in us,” but “on earth,” the whole earth, so that error may be banished from it, truth take root in it, all vice be destroyed on it, virtue flourish on it, and earth no longer differ from heaven”  (St. John Chrysostom, 4th century).   This is one boundary that we do want blurry when it is for the one between heaven and earth so that the Lord’s Prayer is fulfilled in and through us.