MARY: EXEMPLAR ON HOW TO
LEARN THE THINGS OF GOD
St. Thomas had it: Faith
seeking understanding. We have to believe first before we can
understand. Of course, before we believe, we must be certain it comes
from God. That being certain, we must first receive the teachings then
and, in fact, must reason vigorously.
Most Christians treat the
teachings of Christ as we would treat natural things. We reason before
we believe, like Zachary, husband of Elizabeth who reasoned before he
believed the angel and, thus, was punished by becoming dumb. In truth,
modern men are worse; when it comes to worldly things, they accept and believe
even without reasoning but when it comes to the things of God, they are full
Mary first believed, then she
reasoned it out vigorously. She kept all things in her heart, then she
pondered on them.
In the Annunciation, an angel
appeared and announced a message. Her perfect knowledge of the
writings of the Old Testament told her that this is truly a messenger from
heaven and not an evil spirit. And she knew that message was right
because she knew of the prophecies about the virgin giving birth to the
messiah, a prophecy missed by all the women of Israel.
While the shepherds on Christmas
night were filled with awe at the happenings, Mary is said to have kept all
things and pondered them in her heart. While the doctors were awed at
the learning of the boy Jesus, Mary kept all things, pondering them in her
heart. To be merely awed is not to learn. To learn, we must keep
them in our hearts and continuously ponder them in our hearts.
What does it mean "to ponder"? Mary did not think it enough to accept
the truths; she dwelled upon them. It was not enough to possess the
knowledge, she used it. It was not enough to assent to it; she
developed the truths she had learned. She believed and accepted the
truths first, then she reasoned it out.
Mary is the exemplar for those unlearned souls who are trying to learn:
she is the exemplar for the doctors of the Church who investigate, weigh,
define and profess the Gospel, drawing the line between truth and heresy,
combating pride and recklessness, and triumphing over sophistry and the
John Cardinal Newman