Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Paragraph 59

Likewise, reflect upon the state and condition of Mary. So deep was the perplexity of that most beauteous countenance, so grievous her case, that she bitterly regretted she had ever been born. To this beareth witness the text of the sacred verse wherein it is mentioned that after Mary had given birth to Jesus, she bemoaned her plight and cried out: "O would that I had died ere this, and been a thing forgotten, forgotten quite!" (Qur'an 19:22) I swear by God! Such lamenting consumeth the heart and shaketh the being. Such consternation of soul, such despondency, could have been caused by no other than the censure of the enemy and the cavilings of the infidel and perverse. Reflect, what answer could Mary have given to the people around her? How could she claim that a Babe Whose father was unknown had been conceived of the Holy Ghost? Therefore did Mary, that veiled and immortal Countenance, take up her Child and return unto her home. No sooner had the eyes of the people fallen upon her than they raised their voice saying: "O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of wickedness, nor unchaste thy mother." (Qur'an 19:28)

This is the second theme in a series of paragraphs describing some of the various tests that God has given us over the ages. And all of this falls under the general category of "the powers of the earth shall be shaken", in this context referring to the earth of men's hearts.

Baha'u'llah has just described the test of Moses being seen as a murderer, and is now moving forward to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Once again, He is moving forward chronologically. When the Guardian said that we needed to understand the methods and arguments Baha'u'llah used in this Book, this is one of them. He is not bouncing around randomly. He is moving forward methodically, step by step, making it as easy as possible for the reader to follow His train of thought.

He is also connecting two very different stories that we don't normally put together. And while this story seems like it is about Mary, isn't it really about the test that many faced when trying to accept Jesus? Isn't it really about us, and how we feel when we face these tests, too?

We could talk about Mary and what she went through, but really, she is an exceptional case. Instead, let's turn this back to ourselves, and see how it describes us.

Baha'u'llah uses many powerful words in this paragraph, words that evoke deep and unsettling emotions: perplexity, grievous, bitterness, regret, bemoaned, consternation, despondency and lamenting. And all of this was caused not by anything she did, but by the censure and the cavilings of others. Are these not what we feel when we are faced with these potentially overwhelming tests? Here Baha'u'llah is reminding us of Mary, and how she faced them. Mary, who is so highly regarded, faced all these issues. She was innocent, and yet judged harshly. She wept with bitterness, but arose with such magnificence.

Could Baha'u'llah be calling on us to do the same?

At the very beginning of this paragraph, He asks us to reflect upon her "state and condition", her inner being and her external circumstances. She comes from a good background, and everything seems to be in her favour, but her current condition is seemingly the exact opposite. She appears to be on the verge of a breakdown, and is crying out. Yet, she is still the Virgin Mary. She arises to the station of a saint.

No matter what external tests we face, we can still call to mind Mary's tests and remind ourselves that there is nothing she could have said to silence her critics. So what did she do? She took up her Child and went back home.

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