In searching for flowers for the Immaculate Conception on the Day Off, I found these microscopic “flowers” (I know, they’re not real flowers, just some sort of lichen, but our Lady will accept them). I love doing this on a Day Off. A manly thing to do, don’t you think, getting flowers for one’s mom? Meanwhile, a phone call came in from Boston yesterday encouraging me to go ahead and take a day off, because – hahaha! – Even God took a day off.
- “Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing,  He rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it  He rested from all the work he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:1-3)
“But Father George, Father George, you don’t understand: You’re not God!” You’re a crappy sinner who is wicked and the wicked have no rest and you don’t deserve any rest. Get back to work! Just review your horrible list of sins, you sinner! Let me list all your sins for you…”
And then they go on in the boring droning tones of browbeating huffiness. Boring. And it is boring because, without fail, the biggest sin is always ignored, and the biggest sin is that I have personally – by all those sins and faults and ever so much more – I have personally crucified the very Son of the Living God, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. Me. I’ve done that. That would be must more interesting to hear, our attention then being turned to Jesus, who laid down His life for even the likes of idiot me. Awesome, really. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.
“But Father George, Father George, you don’t understand, after any forgiveness, you’re supposed to do PENANCE! ♬ DO IT NOW! ♬ “
Well, yes, that’s all true. But, instead, I think I’ll take a Day Off:
- “The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.” (Mark 6:30-32 nab)
I know, I know. I don’t deserve a Day Off not only because I’m a sinner, but because all I have done and taught – even late into the night – hardly in any way measures up to what the Apostles accomplished. Be that as it may, Jesus is very good and kind to us, patient and long-suffering, with no compromise in His teaching us how to be entirely dedicated, working with us, knowing exactly, with those wounds upon Him, just how inept and prone to failure we are on our own, but also knowing how the Holy Spirit will fire us up.
Meanwhile, even while God rested from His absolutely perfect work of creation on day seven, original sin was enacted by Adam already on day six. We never made it to the seventh day, except in Jesus.
Jesus says: “My Father is at work until now, so also am I at work.” (John 5:17) This refers to the enactment of the work of redemption and our salvation promised in the first Gospel, the Protoevangelium, in Genesis 3:15, after original sin. God is at rest regarding His perfect creation, but is at work for our redemptive-salvific creation.
But we, in our wretchedness, know not how to rest on our own. We take a break so as to cry out to the Lord. He has no rest, bearing those wounds upon His risen body also in heaven. And there is someone else who has no rest: Jesus’ good mom, our co-redemptrix.
She is in solidarity with her Son. It’s a matter of aptness in justice that we call her co-redemptrix, though all the redemption itself and any grace of salvation comes directly and only from Jesus. By way of her Immaculate Conception, with her purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of vision, in seeing what we need for our redemption and salvation by witnessing all the sin of all mankind wrecked upon her Son being tortured to death right in front of her, she’s perfectly able to ask for what we need. She’s just a human being. Nothing more. But nothing less. How fitting that this be done. And her Son answers: “Father, forgive them!” So, Mary doesn’t rest until those destined for heaven are there forever. I love that love for us.
When Jesus laid down His life for us, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, He stretched out His heel to crush the serpent on the head, bringing a mortal end to Satan’s power over us, thus also having His heel crushed such that His mortal frame would be brought to death (only to rise, of course). But in this redemption, in this source of our salvation, He made us one with Himself, and in doing so, laid down our lives with His own. If He stretches out His heel, we are brought to do that through Him, with Him, and in Him. Satan is utterly humiliated.
Mary is singled out in this battle. God, speaking to Satan, says: “I will put enmity between you and the Woman.” Her solidarity with her Son is so perfect that some few of the Church Fathers were beside themselves in praise of God’s action, so that even some few manuscripts have the feminine pronoun instead of the masculine, so that she is seen to be crushing the head of the serpent. This co-redemptive imagery, even if not truly supported in the manuscripts (see my thesis and conference), is not wrong in its incisive shorthand commentary. We also – but Mary preeminently – crush the serpent on the head inasmuch as we are united with the Seed of the Woman, as Genesis marvelously puts it.
Thus, in artwork, we see images of Mary stomping on the serpent:
But, as I say, I would love to see an advance in artwork. I would like to see Mary crushing the serpent on the head with her heel (not just a gentle caress with a couple of toes), and I would like to see how the serpent’s head is being crushed even while that serpent flipped around, and is also crushing the heel of Mary in all violence.
In Genesis, it is the Son of the Mother of the Redeemer who will stretch out His heel. But Satan, in his mockery and blasphemy, will possess Judas so as to have Judas raise his heel against Jesus, as Jesus Himself said:
- “So that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.’ From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.” (John 13:18-19 nab)
Mary was in totally perfect solidarity with Jesus, more than any of us and more than all of us put together could ever be in solidarity with Him. “Co”-redemptrix. Yes. Yahweh-Elohim, later the Word Incarnate, singles her out in parallelism as He curses Satan:
 “I will put enmity between you and the woman…”
and only then….
 “and between your seed and Her Seed.”
Parallelism! Singled out. The “co” of co-redemptrix. Get it?
So, Jesus hasn’t a day off, nor the Father, nor the Holy Spirit. And neither does dearest Mary. She’s always in the thick of it for us.
But we’re so overwhelmed, so weak. How good of Jesus to say to us:
- ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’
I gotta wonder if Jesus and His Apostles had had a moment before being inundated by the crowds who followed them, and if during that brief moment Jesus had them pick flowers for His dearest mama. I think so. :-)