Cheryl Dickow explores the Jewish roots of Mary and her role as intercessor.
According to ancient Jewish teachings, there are specific levels between God and man. These levels are necessary as, according to Jewish mystics, during creation God’s love and goodness was so great that man – as a mere vessel – was unable to contain all that God is and shattered.
So, out of necessity, God made a distance between Himself and man so that man could know and love God but not be annihilated by that intimate face-to-face union. But my face you cannot see, for no man sees me and still lives. Exodus 33:20
These levels also represent different aspects of one’s journey towards God – almost an earthly purification of sorts as each portion of this journey represents a trait, which we as Catholics recognize as a virtue – a desired and sought after way to behave.
In addition to the references of such virtuous behavior as love, perseverance and surrender, each of these aspects are linked to a particular person who has represented these traits particularly well in his or her earthly life. For instance, Queen Esther and Kind David are considered worthy examples of our desires to serve God and implement His will. As such they become “conduits” for man to achieve those goals. As Catholics we would call these saints who have gone before us “intercessors.”
All in all the Jewish teaching very much reflects the Beatitude Blessed are the clean of heart as they shall see God.
Indeed, we see that our journey constantly offers ways for our own purification and ultimate union with God. When we experience times of jealousy we can ask for the Grace needed to overcome those detrimental feelings and help us develop virtuous behavior. Anger, with God’s Grace, is turned into patience. Grace is able to turn any difficult situation into one of learning, growth and peace.
Grace is that gift from God that helps us in our quest to spend eternity with God, face-to-face. It is supernatural help, given for a time or a circumstance, which has nothing to do with our merits but has everything to do with God’s love and interest in our salvation.
Mary, the Jewish mother of Christ, is the dispenser of God’s Grace. She is the “go-between” that allows us to work towards that time where we will see God face-to-face. Not only does Mary dispense God’s Grace, but as she lives completely in His will, she dispenses it most accurately.
This means that if we are in a position or circumstance in which it is only through Grace that we will survive, she will most certainly act in our best interests. If, however, we don’t fully recognize her role as the “conduit” between God and man, we jeopardize the ways in which Grace is available.
While we don’t attribute “feelings” to God, we can say in our humanly way that He was grieved enough about our separation from Him to have sent His most beloved Son. But we ought to take careful note that God chose Mary to bring Salvation to the world. And while it is an old argument, it is still valid: God did not have to use Mary but did – this should make a difference to us in our understanding of her role in our lives.
We can and should recognize that it was through Mary that Salvation was given to the world and it is now through Mary that Grace is dispensed. God’s Grace is so immense that without Mary, we would be shattered by its abundance.