Make ISTPs complain

Solemnity of the Blessed Mother Mary

Ursula Rapp on reading SKZ 51-52 / 2008

Old Testament reading: Num 6,22-27
Gospel: Luk 2,16-21

A blessing is God's giving. People don't have to do anything for this, the blessing only becomes noticeable when it is accepted - (even) without being deserved. Maria was probably one who experienced that.

Read with Israel

The text of the Old Testament reading is a blessing, exceptionally even a blessing with a name: Aaron's blessing. It is the very popular blessing that the priests, the Aaron's family, are supposed to speak about Israel. To this day, Jewish services end with this blessing, although in Orthodox communities only priests are allowed to speak, not the leader of the service. In Jewish reform communities, rabbis are also allowed to give the blessing.

In this blessing God's face appears twice: it should shine above man and it should rise above them. The "face" means in Hebrew: panim and comes from the verb panah, which means "to turn" or "to turn". God's face is thus an expression of affection and affection. The request for blessing calls down God's turning to people. Above all, the blessing expresses a request and hope of the Psalms, i.e. the prayers of Israel:

The shining of God or his face is a common concept in the ancient Orient. On the one hand, it comes from courtly contexts, where the glow of the royal face expresses positive and accommodating benefits or simply the justice of the king. This is also related to the idea of ​​the sun as the epitome of justice and as a symbol of God: In its light one sees clearly and precisely the injustice (Ps 90: 8), the time of which is darkness and night. God's appearance is also connected with the sun, as is the case in Dtn 33: 2; Ps 84:12 or Isa 60: 1-3 is to be read. God's shining face enables a life in righteousness and divine care. People who know that God has treated themselves justly and feel God's affection are happy people, on the contrary are those who always have reason to complain and complain because they feel that they are constantly falling short.

In the Psalms, the "seeing" of the divine face is often added (e.g. Ps 29.2; 63.3; 96.6). In the face of God, sickness, loneliness and nearness to death are overcome. With its glow it puts things in a different light. Looking at God expresses intense, intimate closeness and security.

The phrase that God may "lay his name on Israel" also expresses this intimate closeness of God. In older texts the divine name lies on the sanctuary (e.g. Deuteronomy 12.5) as the place of special divine presence.

That God turns and looks is a request to God. No more can a person praying. God's care is not tied to an ethical, ritual, charitable or other human task, but solely to God. The deity who lets her face shine over people is a visible and that means close, perceptible deity who gives her attention unconditionally. That is why God is also addressed in his mercy: The phrase "he be gracious to you" in the blessing of the reading means this merciful, loving and understanding view of divine perception of human life and endeavors. This mercy as a divine quality belongs to one of the essential attributes of God in the Old Testament: "Yahweh is a merciful and gracious God, long-suffering, rich in grace and faithfulness:" (Ex 34,6). Perhaps in Num 6:25 the blessing is also expressed that people may feel this mercy. Because one of the most difficult religious attitudes for many people is accepting the gift of God without doing anything for it, without deserving it, without understanding divine attention as a reward, but as "grace".

A text that is important in terms of the history of its effects is Ps 67, which quotes the Aaronic blessing in verse 2 and emphasizes that it does not only have an effect for Israel: for all peoples should recognize God's ways and their comprehensive saving power. The purpose of the blessing is to make the peoples thankful (verses 4 and 6) and to cheer (verse 5).

Within the Jewish tradition, the Aaronic blessing has been prayed through time. Lev 9:22 was also understood as a reference to this priestly blessing. The description in Jesus Sirach 50.20 f. Also reminds of this. The rabbinical texts often discuss the question of when the blessing should be spoken and it is emphasized that it should be prayed four times on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and on days of fasting (Babylomian Talmud, Tract Ta’anit 4,1). However, there are also content-related interpretations and extensions that make it clear how the individual blessings were understood.

Thus, in the sect rule of the community of Qumran at the Dead Sea, the following extended Aaronic blessing can be found:

«He will bless you with all good things and He will protect you from all evil and He will make your heart shine (enlighten) your heart with the insight into life and He will grace you with eternal knowledge and He will raise his gracious face to you to everlasting peace." (1 QS 2,2-4)

The Targum Jeruschalmi, an Aramaic, strongly interpreting translation, gives the blessing as follows:

«The Lord bless you in all your occupations and protect you from night demons, fright demons, midday demons, harmful spirits and goblins. The Lord let his face shine on you when you study the Torah and reveal secrets to you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his face to you (kindly) and give you peace in your prayer within all your limits. »1

Obviously one could interpret and expand the blessing according to what preoccupied a church, always pointing out how divine affection of the face, mercy and peace are expressed.

Read with the Church

The Gospel for the feast of the dogma "Mary of the Mother of God" takes up this blessing with no word. The church justifications for dogma do not mention the Aaronic blessing either. What does he say then as a reading on this festival?

An attempt at an answer: The dogma "Mary Mother of God" states that she not only gave birth to Jesus, God's Son, according to his human and divine nature, but also raised and accompanied him as a mother. So she accompanied God into life, like every mother her child. The only thing Mary does in this gospel is that she kept the shepherds' message of God's glory and peace in her heart: God's blessing lies on this unwanted and miserable birth. That means, as the mother of Jesus, she was guided by the fact that God's face shines for this child, perhaps also that God is present in this child.

Again we get to know a secret (sham) contradiction, which we have to learn again and again politically and biographically: God turns to people where it doesn't look like it. And it is precisely there that salvation takes place. The Old and New Testaments tell of this again and again and the birth of God, as it has been handed down, as well as Mary's fate as a mother strengthen and seal this biblical experience.

1 Both texts quoted from: Grözinger, Karl: Midrashisch extended Priestersegen, in; Qumran, Frankfurter Judaistische Posts 2 (1974), 39–52.