Twofold love

Daily Reading for March 25 • The Annunciation

Our Lady was not fifteen years old at the time of the Annunciation. What was the secret which enabled her to translate all this suffering into joy? It was the secret of the twofold love, which our Lord tells us is one and the same: the love of God and the love of man. It is in the Magnificat, that wonderful expression of joy, with which she answered the greeting of her cousin Elizabeth, that our Lady shows this twofold love, and shows how the love of God and the love of man was interlocked in her mind.

If you think of her circumstances at the time, it is astonishing that she should have loved the world as she did, and that she should have felt its sorrows so intensely. She was a country girl who had spent all her life between the temple and a sheltered home. She knew nothing of life in the cities, there was nothing, we would have thought, to fire her imagination with the injustice of the world, nothing to lay its sorrows upon her heart, nothing at all to make any of it a reality to her. Yet clearly, after God, it was the supreme reality.

Today the world’s agony is publicized, exploited, advertised, commercialized. It is thrown in front of our eyes on the screen, it is in the front page news, it is published everywhere in photographs, it is shouted into our ears in every propaganda speech, it is broadcast by the BBC. We cannot possibly avoid knowing it, do what we will. Moreover it is seared and carved on the bodies of the people we meet in the street. Even in London, there are districts where one is abashed by the numbers of mutilated people whom one meets in a single hour. The words of prophecy seem to smite one like a blow: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

How many of us, young or old, really take it to heart, really care at all? How many ask themselves honestly, “What is the root cause of all this? Have I done anything at all to ease one tittle of it? What is the effect of my indifference? Do I want to carry my full share of the weight of the world’s sorrow?” . . .

Our Lady had just such a love for the world—for us! It was that love which made her able to rejoice that her child had come to save the world, cost him and cost her what it must. Her imagination did seize upon our suffering, her heart did go out across the ages to us. Not the politicians of today, but the peasant girl of two thousand years ago knew the root and the remedy for our sorrow . . . because he who now lived in her was the world’s life, and his love would prevail from generation to generation.

From The Mother of Christ by Caryll Houselander (London: Sheed and Ward, 1978).

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