The faith of Mary
Walking through the villages of Galicia, I stopped to satiate my thirst and fill my canteen in a small stone fountain. The fountain not only calmed my thirst but also filled me with joy and renewed my enthusiasm to continue my journey. A phrase was carved on the stone in multiple languages from the great German theologian and moralist Bernard Häring, affirming that “Faith is the fountain of health.”
Two thousand years ago, the faith of Mary, a pious young Jewish woman, led her to drink abundantly from this fountain of health, and made sprout for us the source of eternal health. “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
No one has ever had a greater faith than Mary. She submerged herself into the deepest waters of faith, believing in him, the God who made the marvelous creation from nothing, who also became a baby in Mary’s virginal womb.
Jesus is our health, our salvation, and that health came from the depth of Mary’s faith. As a young woman, she was convinced that “nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37) She assumed all the consequences of her faith, she risked her life when she became pregnant without living with a man; she dared to support the faith of her son Jesus who challenged the interpretations of the Jewish people. Mary encouraged him to leave the privacy of his carpentry work and exposed him to his public life in Cana, walked with him to the desolation of Calvary, and she sustained and encouraged the disciples for many years after the Resurrection and Ascension.
Mary’s faith was purified to the last drop, so that all believers through the centuries could drink from her. When faith questions, we go to Mary: “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34). When faith obeys, we listen to Mary: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). When faith sings, Mary intones for us, “Magnificat anima mea Domino.” (Luke 1:46). When faith bleeds, Mary listens from the cross: “Behold, your son.” (John 19:26). When faith strengthens, Mary teaches us to persevere in prayer, with the community. (see Acts 1:14)
Believing gives health
When faith becomes actions, it ceases to be an idea and the idea transforms in life. Mary put into action her faith in the silence of her relationship with Joseph; her faith became active by helping her elderly cousin Elizabeth; her faith motivated her to go into exile to Egypt; faith gave her the energy and fidelity to go on with her daily life in Nazareth; faith gave her hope to create new forms of justice that would satiate the hungry and overthrow the potentates.
As a woman, at that time and place in history, Mary realized that this idea seemed like folly. Only in faith did her actions make sense. Mary, like all men and women of faith throughout the times, trusted that the wisdom of God would give meaning to their actions in the world at the right time. The madness of the believers makes them live happily, while the rest of the world walks moaning and crying in a valley of confusion and tears.
An Advent anthem in the Liturgy of the Hours sings about Mary:
God’s door to the world,
Door of eternity,
For the man who moans
In the death of time;
When you engendered God,
You have begotten man,
When you begot man,
It is God who is given to us.”
Mary’s faith is the door where God entered our flesh. She was the door where eternal life came through for us and the fullness of our humanity. Mary’s faith will forever be the fountain of wisdom, full of health for all the people that moan, awaiting the divine presence which gives meaning, gives wisdom and gives health.
Approaching and drinking from the fountain of health leads us and gives us the energy to walk toward new forms of justice, love, forgiveness, gratitude, praise, service, fraternity and solidarity. Just like Mary, we must continue to bring God to our life and to all humanity. Let us bring others to drink from the water of life.
Thank you, Mary, for guiding us to the fountain of eternal life.
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - April 2018
Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.Website: www.seattlearchdiocese.org/Archdiocese/auxiliaries.aspx