Our Lady of Moles

Image: Julissa Helmuth
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By RICARDO EVANDRO S. MARTINS*

Being a child is this power to resist power, the “power not to” judge and not condemn the other.

In Brazil, the day of the patron saint of the country can find many coincidences. October 12th coincides with Children's Day and the day of Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida. UNICEF determined that November 20th is World Children's Day, but in Brazil, for political and commercial reasons, since 1924, this date is different. And another curious coincidence, the 12th of October is also the date on which the so-called discovery of America by Christopher Columbus is “celebrated”.

In the city of Belém, in the Brazilian Amazon, another coincidence is also possible. October is the month of the largest Catholic procession in the world, a cult of Portuguese origin, brought by the colonizers: the Círio de Nossa Senhora de Nazaré. In fact, the date of the Círio takes place every second Sunday of October, every year, since the XNUMXth century. Therefore, as there is no specific day of the month, it is not uncommon for the Círio de Nazaré to coincide with that of Nossa Senhora de Aparecida and with Children's Day.

The stories of Maria's images are similar. They involve the insistent appearance of a small image of Our Lady in a supernatural way. In the case of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré, her story may predate the Portuguese cult, and may have originated in Palestine, in the region of Nazareth. In the image there is Mary, holding Jesus in her lap. Jesus, child, a little Christ, the God-child generated by a human woman, Holy Virgin.

Em Generate God (2017), the Italian philosopher Massimo Cacciari brings in his book an important philosophical reflection on “the one-who-bears, the Woman who generated the Son and, however, is also the one who waited for him, who generates him without knowing him , who looks for him without finding him, who finds him and loses him, who weeps for him and finds him again or hopes to find him again”. Massimo Cacciari recalls that even the philosophers who most tried to interpret Europe and Christianity, “the Hegels and the Schellings”, however, “almost always ignored it”.

So, starting from Massimo Cacciari, in this essay I intend to reflect a little more on this mother-son relationship, Santa-Christ, Our Lady-God, Mary-Jesus, but, especially, Mary-Baby Jesus, in her lap: Mary and the child, the infant that is God, and that threshold between the two, the place where the logos became flesh, where “the shadow of Mary protects him and in which he meditates, letting him mature and grow towards the day.”, being also the place where “that child is the shadow that entered Mary”.

The image of a Madonna, of a Our Lady carrying a child, reminds us that God was a child in her arms. Also under the care of Saint Joseph, his saintly stepfather, this God-child is a far from random subject in the Gospels. Little is known about Jesus' childhood. Even theosophy and the apocryphal gospels have tried to shed light on this period. Canonically, it is worth remembering the work of Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus' childhood. Of Gospel, it is possible to see that the child is the infant, the nepios, that little one who cannot speak, cannot speak. Massimo Cacciari remembers the passages in Matthew (11,25) and Luke (10,21), when Jesus praises the Lord, the Father, for he hid “these things from the wise and intelligent” to reveal “to those who cannot speak” .

Not yet Gospel of Matthew, there is a passage in which Jesus is asked by his disciples: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew, 18,1). In response, Jesus says, calling a child, and placing him in their midst: “Amen I say to you, unless you return to be like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever makes himself humble like this child, that one is the greatest of heaven” (Matthew, 18, 2-5).

But what does this childlike humility mean? Why are they, the little ones, dialectically the “greatest” in the heavenly Kingdom?

Massimo Cacciari interprets that there is a wisdom of children – hidden from the wise and the intelligent –, a language proper to these, of those who do not know how to speak, a certain “poverty of the child”: “That of not judging, not dividing, that of sym-ballein [unite], the very wisdom of Mary, the most original of all krisis [limit, decision], as silence is of every word”.

in the apocryphal gospel Book of Jesus' Childhood, it is said that Jesus was once followed by many children to play with him. However, there was a father of one of these boys who arrested his son when he learned that he was going out to have fun with little Jesus. So, “so that he would not follow him anymore, he imprisoned him in a very strong and very solid tower, without a hole or any entrance other than the door and a very narrow window, which only let in a little light”.

And when Jesus was passing near the tower, his little friend cried out: “Jesus, dearest companion, hearing your voice my soul rejoiced and I felt full of relief! Why do you leave me imprisoned here?”. So, the baby Jesus went there and said: “'Stretch a hand or a finger for me through the hole.' And having done this, Jesus took the boy's hand and led him through that very narrow little window. As soon as he took him out of the window, this Jesus, mischievous enough to get his friend out of the punishment and prison imposed by his father, would have said to him: “Recognize the power of God and in your old age tell what God has done to you in your infancy.".

This could be a story about children's inability to judge and condemn someone. In addition to being able to release someone from a punishment, a penalty. This is so because of the difficulty that the child has with that device with which he still does not operate well, he does not understand very well its rules, its game: the most ordinary human language, the language made by judgments, which accuses, condemns, imputes , categorizes, adjectives, punishes and imprisons.

About that, in fire and the story (2014), inspired by the texts of Walter Benjamin, Giorgio Agamben says that “the mystery of guilt and penalty is, in short, the mystery of language”. Language is “what unites guilt and punishment”, and it is the mystery in which we mysteriously participate when we begin to speak, when we are on the threshold between entering language and leaving that childish state. This mystery is what Giorgio Agamben calls Mysterium bureaucraticum; perhaps the same mystery to which Jesus was subjected before Pilate, Saint Francis before his earthly father, K. before the trial which he himself always goes after – and which punishes him “like a dog!”.

Being a child, therefore, being an infant, or being a “kid” – as it is commonly said in Brazil – is precisely this power of resisting power, the “power of not” judging and not condemning the other. Being a kid is managing not to accuse the other of a crime, not to “demonize” things and people, imputing a penalty and guilt to them. To enter the Kingdom of Heaven, one must become a child, one must be in that state between the womb and maturity. If this is really the case, then it is possible to say that, if the path to God is Jesus, a gateway on this path is to be a child, to be a kid.

But what I come to support in this essay is that the infantile state is a state whose mothers can provide, just as Mary cared for and supported her Son, a child. To enter the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus is the way, the truth. But his mother, his example, his paradigm, can guide us in the need to be the “Infant Word”. On this, Massimo Cacciari says: “only those who become like him will enter the Kingdom, like that child who sucks his mother's milk. Eschatological image: the final condition, the last state, will be a feast of the innocents.

The end of times and, later, the time in the heavenly Jerusalem, in the Kingdom of Heaven, can therefore also be understood by Jesus' infant state and, even more, by his relationship with his Mother. She, who redeemed Eve from original disobedience, is the place where a God-child, the Word-infant, arose. The history of the coming of the Messiah is not only recorded through the prophecies of the Old Testament, but also through the natural and supernatural history that begins with his gestation within the body of Mary, Virgin, immaculate.

Our Lady, from Nazaré or Conceição Aparecida, Maria, daughter of Santa Ana, is exactly what Massimo Cacciari designates as: “the young mother and sister, who takes care of the boy”. The mysterious incarnation makes Mary, Our Lady, pregnant with God; sanctifies her: “[the] incarnation of the Logos disincarnates Mary”.

She is what the Italian monk Enzo Bianchi, in Mary, the blessed among all women (2021), calls “Land of the sky”. Mary is the “Land of Heaven”. For it is the condition for the possibility of the earthly coming of that human dimension of God. Mary is the woman who receives the God-child. She is the one who educates her, with Saint Joseph, the boy who will grow up and who will rise again – to first meet “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary”, who went to see her tomb (Matthew, 28,2).

Finally, the images of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré and Nossa Senhora Aparecida, in São Paulo and in the Amazon, remind us of the “yes” they gave to the angel announcing the Messiah, but also of childhood in the mother’s lap, as a condition of being the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven: being a child, being a kid, playing with judgmental language, deactivating its bureaucratic mystery; Mary is “Our Advocate”, who helps, with her divine mercy, to subvert and deactivate the Satanism of the act of accusing and being guilty.

*Ricardo Evandro S. Martins is a professor at the Faculty of Law of the Federal University of Pará (UFPA).

 

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