Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Therefore The Child To Be Born Will Be Called Holy, The Son of God

I centered on the quote from Pseudo-Epiphanius when reading this last section of Fides et Ratio: “the literal translation of the text [“He noera tes pisteos trapeza”] describes Mary as ‘the intellectual table of faith which furnished the bread of life to the world’." (Sr. Prudence Allen, R.S.M., Mary and the Vocation of Philosophers, page 54).  Somehow the image of Mary as “table” (or “altar”, from the Latin) brings to mind the icon “Platytera”--“an icon of the Theotokos, facing the viewer directly, usually depicted full length with her hands in the "orans" position, and with the image of Christ as a child in front of her chest, also facing the viewer directly . . . Poetically, by containing the Creator of the Universe in her womb, Mary has become Platytera ton ouranon, which means: "More spacious than the heavens.” (“Panagia Platytera”, Orthodox Wiki, https://orthodoxwiki.org/Panagia_Platytera).  The theme is of Mary as the place, the platform from which Jesus is brought to the world.  This is a very sapiential image, the framework that connects the person to the Creator and the Creation.

This sapiential service of Mary orders our interaction with God by giving us the structure of the table.  As in the Platytera icon, we are called first to receive Jesus from the table: “David Meconi, S.J. observes that: “Mary exemplifies philosophy’s initial task to receive reality and not manipulate it.’” (Sr. Prudence Allen, R.S.M., Mary and the Vocation of Philosophers, page 54).  Mary does not analyze or reduce the reality of Jesus; rather she ponders Him as a mother gazing at her child and leads us to do so as well.  Her vocation was simply to allow herself to present the Divine Mystery: “Just as the Virgin was called to offer herself entirely as human being and as woman that God's Word might take flesh and come among us, so too philosophy is called to offer its rational and critical resources that theology, as the understanding of faith, may be fruitful and creative. (John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, Section 108).  She invites the philosopher to focus on fecundity as well as analysis in his thought.  Also, she gave herself to this simple vocation of being a platform from which God emerges to the world ”in giving her assent to Gabriel's word, Mary lost nothing of her true humanity and freedom, so too when philosophy heeds the summons of the Gospel's truth its autonomy is in no way impaired” (Ibid.), inviting philosophers to the freedom of littleness by which God can be offered to the world.

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