The Glory Within

Today’s feast of the Presentation of Our Lady strays a long way from historical Judaism but I think we can see in it an important truth, a metaphor, if you like, of the way in which God dwells within every human being. When Mary stepped into the Temple, the Shekinah — the glory of God — took on a new and important form, dwelling within her, not merely over her. Even though she was still a child, and did not yet bear within her the infant Christ, the Fathers have consistently taught that she was sanctified from the first moment of her conception. She was holy in a way that no one before her had been holy, illumined by the Glory within; and since she gave birth to our Saviour and we have been incorporated into Christ by baptism, that same gift of the indwelling Spirit has been ours, too.

We are close to Advent now, and it is a short leap from that thought of the child Mary being dedicated in the Temple to St John of the Cross’s

Del Verbo divino
la Virgen preñada
viene de camino:
¡si le dais posada!

With the Divine Word made pregnant, the Virgin walks down the road — if you will give her shelter!

‘If’: what a world of meaning is in that word! Today’s feast can be covered with a sickly sentimentality but at its heart lies a question each of us must answer. Will we welcome Christ in whatever form he chooses to come to us — even in the uncertain form of those we are tempted to overlook or fear?

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7 thoughts on “The Glory Within”

  1. PS, you’ll like Covarrubias’s 1611 gloss —
    Posar. Vale descansar, porque pone el hombre el cargo que trae a cuestas ; y de allí se dijo posada, la casa donde reciben huéspedes, porque descargan su hato y el cansancio de sus personas. También llamamos posada la casa propia de cada uno.
    ( Some Sp Bibles –including the Oso !– translate κατάλυμα as mesón, but still, St John + knew what he was doing, don’t you think ? )

  2. We were discussing this over morning coffee, as well in relation to microchimerism. This as you know is the migration of fetal cells through the placenta into the mother, with the result that the mother retains DNA of her fetus for life as would have happened to Mary. What a gift to us to retain the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments.

  3. I wrote this before, but think I then forgot to press ‘Submit’. So here goes again.

    Aprpos the last word in St John’slittle poem, I catch an allusion to Luke 2. 7. It must be admitted that some Spanish bibles use ‘mesón’ to translate the Gk κατάλυμα, whereas others, including (if I’m right about the underlying reference) St John, opt for ‘posada’. A further reason for this choice may perhaps be seen in Covarrubias’s 1611 gloss, that I think will appeal to you:

    POSAR, vale descansar, porque pone el hombre la carga que trae a cuestas; y de allí se dixo Posada, la casa donde reciben huespedes; porque descargan su hato, y el cansancio de sus personas. Tambien llamamos Posada, la casa propia de cada vno. De aquí se dixo reposar y reposo.

    (There’s not a squeak about this in the Crítica edn, but never mind that.)

  4. Here’s an even more pedantic additional note:

    ‘Mesón’ is the word chosen by, among others, the translator(s) of the Biblia del Oso. Despite that’s being a Protestant text, and –a fact pulling in the opposite direction—the translation’s familiar name involving a bear (!), Covarrubias’s gloss on it does make a connection with the word found in the Vulgate (non erat eis locus in diversorio):

    MESON, en lengua Castellana sinifica el diuersorio, o casa publica y posada, adôde concurren forasteros de diuersas partes, y se les da albergue para si, y para sus caualgaduras.

    We can see from this, however, that what the word ‘mesón’ seems not to do is connect with the notion of a place where one lays down one’s burdens (cp Matthew 11. 28-30).

  5. I look forward to journeying through Advent with you, Sister. I promise I won’t say “Are we there yet?” In our part of the world a frequent cry from children undertaking a road trip.

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