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Mary's Womb as the 'Space Within Our Space for the Gestating Son of God'

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image of Religion and Theology

Speaking of Mary's womb, Hans Urs von Balthasar draws attention to the place where the Word 'staked out' a space in a human being in order there itself to become man (human), as the child of a mother. In similar vein we are directed to the mystery that Catholic and Orthodox Christians have always overtly recognized: Mary's unique place among human beings as the one who 'contains the uncontainable God.' If this mystery lies at the heart of our faith, then at the heart of that heart is God's grace. In grace God selects a poor, Galilean girl to be the locus of what Christians believe to be the most extraordinary thing that has ever happened. There is much to learn about 'grace, space and race' through reflection on what occurred in Mary's womb, not least in the relationship between immanence and transcendence. This and other themes which have their origin here provide both the imagery and the theological undergirding for other themes – more concrete, specific, and contemporary – that we might explore in a theology of place in (South) Africa today.

Affiliations: 1: Research Associate, Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch, 171 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch 7600, Republic of South Africa;, Email:


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