In reading Balthasar and thinking about beauty this week, I came upon several ideas inviting further exploration, but today I want to focus on two stories in the gospels where Mary (the sister of Martha and Lazarus) models the kind of gratuitous, exorbitant love that divine beauty evokes. In many ways, these two stories develop the image I reflected on last week, of a mother smiling at her child, awakening this new human to love. Such love, as Balthasar insists repeatedly, must be experienced in order to be understood, as discursive explanations always remain inadequate to love’s drama. Similarly, both these stories about Mary are about instances when her full participation in the love of Jesus confused those around her—her love resisted rational explanation. Balthasar draws on both stories in trying to depict the absolute value of love, a value that exceeds any rational calculation.
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