We often hear of Mary as the new Eve. We know that Eve was originally without sin but failed. Like Eve, Mary was also without sin but never failed. Eve invites Adam to their first sin and Mary invites Jesus to His first public miracle. Adam and Eve were successfully tempted by Satan, while Mary is with Jesus when Satan is defeated at the cross.
Image by Dimitris Vetsikas
By Lou Occhi
Since this is a Marian feast day, I thought I would talk a little bit about our Blessed Mother. We need to be clear that Catholics, both Easter and Western rites, do not worship Mary. She is not divine. However, we do venerate her as Mother of God and do go to her to intercede for us with her Son.
Our veneration to Mary goes all the way back to the earliest times. In the second century Church Father, St. Irenaeus writes, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience.” In my view, she was not just the mother of Jesus; she was also a sort of mom to the apostles and disciples. She was with them when they were afraid and hiding behind closed doors. When Jesus appeared and the Spirit of the Lord came down upon them, she was with them. After all, she is the only one who was with Jesus from the moment of conception through His crucifixion and death.
We often think of her as beginning with the New Testament. In fact, she is the bridge between Old and New Testament. The Old Testament alluded to Mary in many places. In Genesis 3:15, God says, ‘I will place enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring. She will crush your head and you will lie in wait for her heel.’ This is not referring to all women, but to a specific woman.
We often hear of Mary as the new Eve. We know that Eve was originally without sin but failed. Like Eve, Mary was also without sin but never failed. From an eight week video class currently being given on Sundays at OLW, Dr. Pitre offers the following comparisons between Eve and Mary. In Genesis, Eve is referred to as woman and Jesus refers to Mary as woman. Eve invites Adam to their first sin and Mary invites Jesus to His first public miracle. Adam and Eve were successfully tempted by Satan, while Mary is with Jesus when Satan is defeated at the cross.
In today’s first reading from Isaiah we read, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you this sign; the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name Him Emmanuel, which means God is with us." In Micah 5:3 we read ". . . until the time she who bears Him gives birth." Both of these verses refer to a specific woman.
The tie between the Arc of the Covenant and Mary is one of the great ties between Old Testament and New Testament. In the Old Testament we know that the dominant features of the Arc were made of pure Gold and that the Arc was covered with a blue cloth. The colors often associated with Mary are blue and gold. The University of Notre Dame colors are blue and gold for that very reason. The Arc contained Aaron’s staff representing his authority from God, the manna from heaven, and tablets containing word of God. Mary carried within her womb the true authority of God, the true bread come down from heaven and the living word of God. For these reason Mary is often referred to as the new Arc of the Covenant.
In Samuel, we read that the Philistines had captured the Arc. While in possession of the Arc, they suffered from an epidemic of various illnesses including hemorrhoids. As a result, they summoned David to come and retrieve the Arc. Upon arriving at the Arc, David exclaims ‘How is it that the Arc of my Lord has come to me.’ While trying to move the Arc there was an unfortunate accident, so David took the Arc to a house in Judah and left it there for three months. He then went back to retrieve the Arc and was jumping with joy. Immediately after the annunciation, Mary left for Judah to assist her cousin Elizabeth in her pregnancy. On hearing Mary’s voice Elizabeth says, ‘How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ At that moment, the baby within Elizabeth’s womb jumped. She remained with Elizabeth for three months. Although the stories are not exactly the same, the similarity is astounding.
In essence, Mary was created by the Father, is the spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Father’s son. I defy you to try and draw a family tree. At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and says ‘Hail, full of grace’. We have talked about this before. Hail is a form of salute such as Hail Caesar or Hail to the President. Full of grace, as written in Luke, is actually a title. The only way to be full of grace is to be free of all sin including original sin. This is in contrast to Peter’s escape from prison. When the angel appeared to Peter he simply said get up, and get dressed, we are leaving.
Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin, and remained sinless throughout her life. If she was going to be the mother of the son of God, she had to be a spotless vessel. When she passed away she was assumed body and soul into heaven. Jesus, being fully human and divine, ascended to heaven by his own power. Mary being fully human but not divine had to be assumed into heaven by the power of God. In the Old Testament, the queen was the mother of the king. Solomon’s queen, Bathsheba, was his mother. The queen is adorned with a crown of gold. Since Jesus is King of Heaven and Earth, Mary is now crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth and frequently pictured with a crown of gold.
As our Queen and spouse of the Holy Spirit, she is the mediatrix of all graces. That is, all graces come from the Holy Spirit to us through our Blessed Mother. As such, she has the task of bringing us to our Lord. Historically, she has appeared throughout time to various people with the intention of bringing souls to her son, Jesus. One shining example is Our Lady of Guadalupe. In one fell swoop, she converted most of South America to Catholicism.
We often hear that Mary had other children. That is not true. First, we know that in Jesus’ day cousins were often referred to as brothers and sisters. Acts 1:15 refers to 120 brothers. I feel confident that they all did not have the same mother. Second, Jesus feels compassion for the widow at Nain whose son had died and she had no one to care for her. Jesus then raises the son from the dead. In Jesus’ time, children were expected to care for their elderly or infirm parents.
As far as I know, this is the only miracle where Jesus performs a miraculous healing without first being asked. Third, at the cross Jesus tells Mary that John is her son and tells John that Mary is his mother. If Jesus had brothers and sisters, this would not have been necessary. Fourth, the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 510 states that Mary ‘remained a virgin in conceiving Him, giving birth to Him, in nursing Him at her breast, always a virgin.’ Even Protestant reformers believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Finally, you may recall that Mary is still the spouse of the Holy Spirit and, according Catholic beliefs is perpetually virgin.
We have to remember that she is our Spiritual Mother. In good times and tragic times. When are suffering, we can go to her and unload our feelings and ask her to intercede with our Lord for help. Just as she was mom to Jesus, the apostles and disciples, she is our mom as well.
I would like to finish with this quote:
"God did not receive His divinity from Mary, but it does not follow that it is therefore wrong to say that God was born of Mary, that God is Mary’s Son, and that Mary is God’s mother. … She is the true mother of God and bearer of God. Mary suckled God, rocked God to sleep, prepared broth and soup for God, etc. For God and man are one person, one Christ, one Son, one Jesus, not two Christs just as your son is not 2 sons… even though he has two natures, body and soul, the body from you, the soul from God alone." (Martin Luther)
Two books you might enjoy on Mary: