violette

violette
Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Filled with the utter fullness of God

Within the wide world of the Society of the Sacred Heart, today is the feast of Mater Admirabilis, an image of Mary as a rosy-cheeked young girl, caught up in contemplation and serenity between various everyday tasks. But in the even wider world of the Church today is an ordinary Thursday, and so those of us attending Mass in parishes and chaplaincies will hear the ordinary readings of the day - readings which are not designed to be about Mary or Mater.

And yet... today we have the gift of a second reading which is St Paul at his most breathtakingly lyrical; a reading which is both prayer and inspiration, and which can certainly speak to us of Mary...

Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.

Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine... ~ Ephesians 3: 16-19

Because surely if anyone was filled with the utter fullness of God it was Mary! Filled with God's fullness in her contemplation and stillness, and thus filled with God in her busyness, and her life as a wife and mother. She was someone who was undoubtedly planted in love and built on love: someone who, in all she pondered in her spacious heart, was able not just to grasp but to understand the unbounded extent and depth of God's love; someone who allowed God's power to work in and through her. And thus, not only during her pregnancy, when she bore God within her, but in every moment before, during and after, she was - as Gabriel proclaimed - full of grace, because she was full of God; and full of God because she was full of grace!

Paul's prayer, though, was on behalf of ordinary, struggling, grappling people, who had never had the joy and privilege of knowing Jesus as a fellow human, much less bearing his life within them. And this prayer echoes across the centuries and resounds for us, today, that our hidden selves may grow strong; that Christ may live in our hearts and we too may be planted in love and built on love, grasping and knowing a Love beyond knowing, so that we too might be filled with the utter fullness of God. Filled not so that we keep this glorious fullness within us (as if we could!), but so that it overflows as it surely must. Filled so that, like Mary, we too can bear the life of Jesus within us, for the greater life and love of our world...

I'm sure that today especially Mary will join her prayer on our behalf to Paul's. With her care and example may we too be enabled to bear the plenitude of God within us, and thus in our life and mission become the best selves God created us to be, able to give glory to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine...

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