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I have, in the past, discussed this passage with several of our Reformed brothers and sisters. And they are of the opinion that this verse does not describe the Blessed Virgin Mary. So, I’d like to visit some Scriptures of which they might not be aware, to perhaps get some understanding as to why the Blessed Virgin Mary is considered the Ark of the New Covenant. Why we consider her so important to our faith. And why we believe she is our mother, given to us by God the Father.
The Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture
Revelation 11:1919And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
Revelation 12:11And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
Perhaps you will agree with me that the Jews considered the Ark, made of wood, a very important part of their faith. In that Ark of the Old Covenant, were contained the Word of God written by the finger of God on stone tablets, the Rod of Aaron, symbol of the Aaronic High Priesthood and the Manna from heaven (i.e. Bread of heaven).
Perhaps you will also agree that those three things are symbols of Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, who was contained in the Ark which was not made by human hands, the womb of our Blessed Mother.
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
Luke 1:30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
The Israelites had a great deal of reverence for this wooden box. They even bowed before it:
And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.
And they considered it the Glory of Israel:
1 Samuel 4:22
And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.
Of course, Catholics are frequently berated by Protestants for bowing before images of Our Blessed Mother:
Luke 1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Power flowed from this wooden box. So much so, that the Philistines, when they stole it, were forced to return it even though the Israelites did not intervene at all (see 1 Sam Chapter 5).
Reformers berate Catholics because we believe that power now flows through the Virgin Mother.
Revelation 12:17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
There are so many parallels between Mary and the Ark of the Old Covenant, that it would take a small book to list them all. For the sake of time, I’d like to simply post a small snippet from a Catholic source:
Compare David and the ark to Luke’s account of the Visitation:
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:39-45).Here are the parallels:
Mary arose and went to the hill country of Judea. Ein Kerem (where Elizabeth lived) and Abu Ghosh (where the ark resided) are only a short walk apart. Mary and the ark were both on a journey to the same hill country of Judea.
When David saw the ark he rejoiced and said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” Elizabeth uses almost the same words: “Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Luke is telling us something — drawing our minds back to the Old Testament, showing us a parallel.
When David approached the ark he shouted out and danced and leapt in front of the ark. He was wearing an ephod, the clothing of a priest. When Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, approached Elizabeth, John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb — and John was from the priestly line of Aaron. Both leapt and danced in the presence of the ark. The Ark of the Old Covenant remained in the house of Obed-edom for three months, and Mary remained in the house of Elizabeth for three months. The place that housed the ark for three months was blessed, and in the short paragraph in Luke, Elizabeth uses the word blessed three times. Her home was certainly blessed by the presence of the ark and the Lord within…..
I’d like to ask this. Is Scripture telling us that St. Mary’s role in salvation history is much more important than Protestant theology teaches? And also, for those who do not believe that she is the ark of the New Covenant, are all these verses merely coincidence?
Protestants claim that the word “adelphos” only means brothers of the womb. Therefore, they claim that Mary had other children. They base that idea on this verse:
Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
Lets focus on that word, “brethren”. The original Greek uses the word “adelphos”. Strong’s lexicon number 80. Let me show you from the Blue Letter Bible:
|Mat 13:55||Is 2076 not 3756 this 3778 the carpenter’s 5045 son 5207? is 3004 0 not3780 his 846 mother 3384 called 3004 Mary 3137? and 2532 his 846brethren 80, James 2385, and 2532 Joses 2500, and 2532 Simon 4613, and 2532 Judas 2455?|
Now, let’s see a few instances of the word brethren in the New Testament in reference to brethren of Jesus:
|Mat 4:18||And 1161 Jesus 2424, walking 4043 by 3844 the sea 2281 of Galilee1056, saw 1492 two 1417 brethren 80, Simon 4613 called 3004 Peter4074, and 2532 Andrew 406 his 846 brother 80, casting 906 a net 293into 1519 the sea 2281: for 1063 they were 2258 fishers 231.|
|Mat 4:21||And 2532 going on 4260 from thence 1564, he saw 1492 other 243 two1417 brethren 80, James 2385 [the son] of 3588 Zebedee 2199, and2532 John 2491 his 846 brother 80, in 1722 a ship 4143 with 3326Zebedee 2199 their 846 father 3962, mending 2675 their 846 nets 1350; and 2532 he called 2564 them 846.|
|Mat 12:49||And 2532 he stretched forth 1614 his 846 hand 5495 toward 1909 his 846disciples 3101, and said 2036, Behold 2400 my 3450 mother 3384 and2532 my 3450 brethren 80!|
|Mat 23:8||But 1161 be 2564 0 not 3361 ye 5210 called 2564 Rabbi 4461: for 1063 one1520 is 2076 your 5216 Master 2519, [even] Christ 5547; and 1161 all 3956ye 5210 are 2075 brethren 80.|
|Mat 28:10||Then 5119 said 3004 Jesus 2424 unto them 846, Be 5399 0 not 3361 afraid5399: go 565 tell 518 my 3450 brethren 80 that 2443 they go 5217 into1519 Galilee 1056, and there 2546 shall they see 3700 me 3165.|
How many children did the Virgin Mary have again?
Just one folks. The word “adelphos” has many meanings in Scripture.
St. Juan Diego is very closely linked to our Lady. In his memory, I think it is appropriate to review in Scripture, the sign that he received and which was depicted on his mantle, the Tilma of Our Lady, and which, to my mind, authenticates his revelation.
St. John’s book of Revelations
Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.
The Ark of the Covenant is a pre-figuring of the Mother of God. Why?
1. The Ark of the Covenant contained the Manna or the Bread of Heaven.
Mary contained, in her womb, Jesus the True Bread of Heaven.
2. The Ark of the Covenant contained staff of Aaron which symbolized the Asronic His Priesthood.
Mary contained, in her womb, the eternal High Priest, Jesus.
3. The Ark of the Covenant contained the Word of God carved by the finger of God into stone tablets.
Mary contained, in her womb, the Word of God made flesh.
That is why Mary is called the Ark of the New Covenant.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
This is the sign which was given to St. Juan Diego. Along with the Shroud, the Mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a powerful sign given us by God.
It also confirms the doctrines of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Crowning of the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and the Virgin Mary as Mother of God.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
This dragon is Satan, who is attempting to kill the Christ.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
Jesus, although He was killed on the Cross, overcame death and was ascended into heaven.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.
In his prophetic way of speaking, St. John goes back and forth in time. Here he mentions the evacuation of Mary with Jesus and Joseph to the desert of Egypt. Egypt is a desert literally speaking and spiritually, because it was a land of gentiles where God was not recognized.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.”
And when the Dragon was defeated, the voice of an Angel rang out in heaven to declare the victory.
Patronal Feastday of the United States of America
Reading 1 GN 3:9-15, 20
The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, is the celebration of the union of the Holy Spirit with Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, from the moment that she was engendered. This union of the Holy Spirit and Mary is the reason why she was begotten without sin.
We begin in the book of Genesis at the point when Adam has already fallen from grace because it is at this point that God announces the coming of a Woman, who will hate the Serpent so much, that she will never be under his control. This is the ProtoEvangelium. The first announcement of the coming of the Messiah, the Seed of the Woman, Who will crush the Serpent under their feet.
The Woman will crush the Serpent by virtue of her giving birth to the Saviour. The Saviour will crush the Serpent by virtue of His obedience to God, His Father.
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
Adam, once a friend of God, now feared and hid from Him.
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
Having eaten of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam was now separated from God. It is as though the umbilical cord had been cut and Adam was no longer united to God.
The Catechism says that Adam lost the grace of Original Justice in which he was conceived. And now lived in a state of Original Sin, which placed him at odds with God who is all holy.
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
Dr. Scott Hahn alls this a pre-Judgment event. In the Judgment, we will be told our sins and be judged by God. Adam is standing before God and being judged.
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
Adam blames his wife for his sin. Scripture says that it is Eve who was tricked by Satan.
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”
And the Woman, Eve, blames the Serpent. The Serpent is the Devil, the Father of lies.
Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
God condemns the Serpent to crawl on its belly.
I don’t think this is an explanation of why snakes lost their legs. I believe this is an analogy or parable which is somehow related to the events of Revelation 12:7 where the Dragon was exiled from heaven and condemned to roam the earth.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”
The is the Proto-Evangelium. The first account of the Gospel predicting the coming of the Mother of God and her Son, the Saviour of the world.
Notice that there is “enmity” or “deep hatred”, between the Serpent and Mary. From the moment of her coming into existence, Mary is united to God and an enemy of Satan. Therefore, she is conceived without sin and remains without sin her entire life.
The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.
Eve became the mother of all mankind. But Eve, here, represents Mary and the Church, because it is Mary who is the Mother of all who live in Christ. See Rev 12:17.
Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4
R. (1) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
In Mary, God did something new that had never been seen. A woman protects the man? God made man, Ecce Homo, is put under the care of a mere woman.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
God has done great things for us through the Maid which He made the Mother of His Son. And Holy is His Name.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Therefore, thank God, for the Maid who gave her fiat that the Lord, the Saviour, might be engendered in her immaculate womb.
Reading 2 EPH 1:3-6, 11-12
Brothers and sisters:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Holy is the name of our God!
who has blessed us in Christ
Who has given us His Son
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
And, in Baptism, has poured the grace of the Holy Spirit into our souls.
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
As He predestined us from time immemorial.
to be holy and without blemish before him.
that we might live righteously and be justified in His eyes.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
Because of His love He elected us to be born again in Christ.
in accord with the favor of his will,
because He wanted to bless us
for the praise of the glory of his grace
by the gift of His life
that he granted us in the beloved.
that He gave us through His son.
In him we were also chosen,
In Christ we were elected
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
in line with the will of God
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
Who completes all which He sets out to do
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
So that we might give glory to His name.
we who first hoped in Christ.
We who turned to His Son believing and expecting to receive the promised salvation.
Alleluia SEE LK 1:28
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Most of us recognize these words as the prayer known as the Hail Mary. But as you can see, they were first spoken to the Virgin Mary by the Angel Gabriel. And they are inscribed in the Word of God.
When you read these words, please recognize, that although they were spoken by the Angel, the Angel was also conveying the message which God sent him to deliver. Therefore, it is not just the Angel praising Mary, but God through the Angel.
Gospel LK 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
God sent the angel Gabriel
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
to relay a message to the Virgin Mary
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
And the message is one of praise
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The word, “hail” is a greeting reserved for royalty. So, the humble maid was confused why an angel from heaven would humble himself before her.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
But he comforted her and explained that she would be the Mother of God.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
The Mother of the promised Saviour.
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
Mary was again confused. She, obviously, at her age, knew about the birds and the bees. And there is no record of any woman engendering a child without sexual relations.
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And the Angel explained that this child would not be engendered by natural means, but by supernatural means by the power of the Holy Spirit. The terminology, “the Most High will overshadow you” is Hebraic euphemism which means that she will be the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. This is what it means when a man overshadows or covers a woman. This is how she would have understood it.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
As proof, the Angel offers that her own aged relative will also bear a son, even though she has been barren these many years.
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
But that mattered little. Because Mary gave her wholehearted fiat to the Lord and did not question the Angel’s explanation.
Then the angel departed from her.
And the Angel went back to God who sent him.