“Mary’s faith . . . [reveals] that faith is the unconditional assent given to the three-fold union of love that God wishes to establish with man: filial, nuptial, and fruitful.”
The mystery of the Virgin Mary, icon of faith, receives its light from that of Christ and guides us to him and to the Church, of whom Mary is also the archetype.1 Only in and through the relation of love with her Son, the Incarnate Logos, can the contours of Mary’s person be seen.2 By sheer grace, the Virgin Mary’s assent of faith was uniquely able to receive God’s love humanly and without any sort of resistance.3 However, that the Virgin Mary, blessed among women because she believed (Lk 1:45), leads to and cannot be severed from Christ also means that, in a way possible only for the divine agape (1 Jn 4:8) that gives itself without losing itself, Christ himself cannot be separated from the Virgin Mary.4 In this sense, man’s reception of and fulfillment in the divine life in Christ is a participation in the agapic relation of Jesus with his mother: we become children of God and members of the body of Christ when, through the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary becomes our mother and we become brothers of Christ, whose body was prepared in Mary’s womb. Man’s faith is a gift that comes from and roots him in the reciprocal relation between Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
This essay ponders Mary’s faith in its unique capacity to reveal that faith is the unconditional assent given to the threefold union of love that God wishes to establish with man: filial, nuptial, and fruitful. Mary’s faith shows us that God wants man to be fruitful, like he himself is, and to be nuptially and filially united to him as a son in his Son through the Holy Spirit (Gal 4:4–7).5 The Virgin Mary’s faith, however, is not simply an icon in which we see God’s will embraced to the end. She is also the one through whom, in a mysterious way, God carries out his plan. The Virgin Mary, becoming the mother of all believers at the foot of the Cross (Jn 19:26–27), enables Christ to become the brother of all those who, as St. John did, welcome Christ and Mary in faith. As brothers, they enjoy the love the Father has for his eternal Son. Furthermore, precisely because the faith of her who is full of grace is the ongoing recognition of and total surrender to the true Word of God, she, the archetype of the Church and eschatological Bride of the Lamb (Rev 19:7, 21:9), introduces the communion of believers into that nuptial union with Christ (Eph 5:25–27; 2 Cor 11:2) which will be fulfilled when he is everything to everyone (Col 3:11).6
Our essay proceeds in five steps. It first examines the sense in which Mary’s faith is both the fruit and the fulfillment of her own filiality. It then elucidates the nature of Mary’s faith, by which, in assenting to God’s promise and omnipotent faithfulness, she became the virginal mother of God and underwent at the foot of the Cross the most radical kenosis of faith (sections 2–3). Mary’s virginal motherhood will then help us ponder the meaning of both the nuptial union with God that faith establishes (section 4) and the gift of divine sonship that Christ, together with Mary, bestows on the believer (section 5).
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