There exists a strong tendency in popular culture to ‘humanise’ Christ, to reduce Him to the kind of human being even more at sea than we are: a bumbling, blind character, uncertain of everything and everyone, above all, of himself. It’s a hollow comfort, but as the saying goes, misery loves company. Dragging God down to our level, to share our misery, is just that sort of false comfort. This tendency, however mistaken, still bears traces of truth. It is true that God has become one of us, and that He has shared in our miseries. But He does so in order to lift us ‘out of the dungheap’ (as the Psalms say) of our lives. Misery may love company, but True Love lifts us up and fits us for the company of the blessed.
Our misery grinds on in this shifting world of change and seeming chance, this ‘vale of tears’. The blessedness of the saints thrives in an unfickle realm, the realm of eternity. As a hymn puts it: ‘Change and decay in all around I see / O Thou Who changest not, abide with me.’ In His incarnation, Our Lord was not a bumbling oaf unsure of His own identity; rather, He is the One Who knows in His depths that He is the Father’s Beloved, and that His mission is to fulfill His Father’s will: that not one of us should be lost.
In that light, we must not empty Our Lady of her humanity, or downplay her glories as though she could possibly be a rival to God, who alone we worship and adore. We must not reduce Our Lady in a mistaken attempt to ‘humanise’ her, and unwittingly empty her of her true humanity. In her Immaculate Conception she is the first of Christ’s miracles, and He crowns her with her glorious Assumption as a sign and foretaste of the joys promised to His bride, the Church, to be ‘without spot or wrinkle or anything like that’.
More than that, Our Lady is not simply a passive instrument. It would be wrong to think of a dichotomy of activity between our world of change and decay (but active nonetheless), and the realm of unchanging Day, as though it were frozen and static – stuck, however beautiful, but stuck nevertheless. The world of the blessed is unchanging, it is true, but it is not static.
The life of the Trinity, although unchanging, is utterly dynamic, likened to the thundering of living water, like fire which burns without consuming, like wind unsettling all around it. So too Our Lady, drawn up in her glorious Assumption out of this fickle world, is not stuck in static rigidity, but is utterly active, completely a Mother, completely our Mother. In her Assumption, she is brought to the right side of her Son, the King, and she intercedes before Him constantly, the New Eve helping the New Adam, continuing what began when she stood at the foot of His Cross and a sword was thrust through her own soul as the lance pierced her Son’s Sacred Heart.
Through her Immaculate Conception and Assumption, Our Lady is made more human, a human being as she ought to be, and so she prophesies, ‘The Almighty has done great things for me; henceforth all ages will call me blessed.’ Her Assumption takes her, body and soul, out of time and space, into the dynamic, unchanging realm of Christ’s victory over sin and death – where she is now not just His Mother, but ours as well. In her heavenly activity, she shows herself as the New Eve, as pope Benedict XVI called her, ‘Advocate and Mediatrix of grace, you who are fully immersed in the one universal mediation of Christ’ (that is, Co-Redemptrix, properly understood).
Our Lady became our Mother when Christ our Head was crucified, and she is given to us more firmly as Mother when the Church, Christ’s Body and Bride, undergoes her own trial and crucifixion. In heaven, for our sake, Our Lady appears more clearly as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, and utterly active in her motherly love, she points to Christ, her Redeemer and ours, who alone makes us more human and alive.