Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation|
John Gregory continues his comprehensive meditation on the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary and a renewed perspective of Mary's role in salvation and how, through the Visitation, She cooperated with God's call to love Him above all things, and then our neighbors as ourselves for love of God.
"Can you see the importance of faith here? Mary knew how dangerous such a journey could be and she could have easily caved in to self-approval after what had happened to her and been content to take it easy but she thought of others first and went "with haste" to visit and help her cousin. Hence, faith leads to action and just believing is not enough. I should first explain what Catholics believe regarding faith and how the theological virtue faith is a necessary part (but not the only part) needed for our Salvation and I will explain why we believe this and then show you some, but by no means an exhaustive use of biblical verses to show what this belief is based upon."
Today being the joyful feast of the Visitation,
let us take time for a meditation on this second Joyful Mystery of the most holy Rosary.
And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God" (Luke 1:36-37).
Elizabeth is another woman having a very important child (though any immortal soul is rather important would you say?) with a very important mission in salvation history. It is important for authentic Christians to know that just as there were "types" of Jesus there were also "types" of Mary. Each type would have a quality or similarity of Jesus and Mary and would point to them; though no type would be the perfect type. Some types would commit heinous sins during their lives but they still pointed towards what was to come in salvation history. You have Adam and the "New Adam" as Saint Paul says. You have Isaac going up the hill with the wood, who was almost sacrificed by his father as Jesus allowed Himself to be sacrificed on a hill according to His Father's will. You have Moses that performed miracles, taught and preached as Jesus did. You have David who was a King as Jesus is; and Solomon known for his wisdom as Jesus is. You have the prophets that prophecized as Jesus did; just to name a very few.
Along with Mary "the New Eve" you have Elizabeth, who had a child (vital to salvation history who would prepare the people for the coming of the Lord) in a way that would seem impossible (much as a perpetual virgin bearing a child would seem unlikely). You had Sarah who had Isaac, under seemingly impossible circumstances (much as our Lady conceived without the assistance of a man a seeming impossibility) and who would be the father of a Nation. You had the Ark made of the "most pure" gold and not to be touched by the hand of man (as our Lady would not be touched by man), Deborah who crushed an evil man's head, shades of Genesis 3:15 "she will crush your head" where the New Eve (Mary) crushes the head of the serpent and so on.
Jesus and Mary perfectly embody these "types" or precursors in the Old Testament. We should strive to be "types" of Jesus and Mary as well. Some say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but in this case it is the safest and surest way to holiness and Eternal Life.
And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda" (Luke 1:39).
Can you see the importance of faith here? Mary knew how dangerous such a journey could be and she could have easily caved in to self-approval after what had happened to her and been content to take it easy but she thought of others first and went "with haste" to visit and help her cousin. Hence, faith leads to action and just believing is not enough. I should first explain what Catholics believe regarding faith and how the theological virtue faith is a necessary part (but not the only part) needed for our Salvation and I will explain why we believe this and then show you some, but by no means an exhaustive use of biblical verses to show what this belief is based upon.
True Christians believe that when we are "baptized in water and the Spirit", "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost"; we are infused with, along with other gifts and fruits, the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, free gifts from God. Then, during the course of our lives, it is up to us to be "faithful stewards" of these gifts and not to "bury the talents" that God has given us. For if we bury our talents we can end up worse off than we would have been had we never received them in the first place (2 Peter 2:20-22).
The New Testament blossoms with references to these theological virtues:
Matthew 9:27-31 (Faith); 1 Corinthians 13:13 (Faith, Hope, and Love); 1 John 2:3-5 (Love and keeping the commandments); Matthew 5:1-12, 44 (Beatitudes - virtues that lead to great glory in Heaven, Love); Matthew 7:21-27 (Love - notice the action and the doing in these verses); John 14:21 (Love); Hebrews 10:23 (Hope); Titus 3:6-7 (Hope); Romans 4:18; 5:5 (Hope - notice the word might in this verse this denotes that these virtues are the beginning or the seed which might/can lead to our Salvation in Heaven if we are "faithful stewards" and "persevere unto the end" with these virtues.); Hebrews 6:18b-20 (Hope); 1 Thessalonians 5:8 (Faith, Charity, Hope); Romans 12:12 (Hope); John 13:34; 13:1; 15:9,10,12,14; Luke 10:27-37; Matthew 25:40,45; 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 (Love); Colossians 3:13 (Love)
And just to clarify what is meant by virtues being free gifts that we receive at Baptism which we must be "faithful stewards" of, because we all can "harden our hearts" and turn our back on the Lord (much as the Novus Ordo priest does when saying the "mass" if there is even a tabernacle or crucifix to turn your back to) even though we "proclaim Him with our lips". Faith is the virtue which enables us to believe in Jesus Christ. This is a first or beginning step on our journey towards salvation but to our own condemnation if we do not "persevere unto the end". Our salvation is not a past event. We do not have it made in the shade merely by accepting Jesus as Lord. Please notice the future tense of "will be" in these verses:
Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13; 1 Peter 5:9; Luke 21:19
Now we shall consider the distance of 80 miles our Lady traveled to get to Elizabeth's house and the 4 or 5 days it took to get there.
We can see here clearly how just because one is highly favored by God does not mean that the rest of their life is going to be easy. In fact quite the opposite can usually be true. One can have an idea about this just by looking at the chosen people of the Old Covenant as a whole. Or as a particular example, look at the life of Abraham or John the Baptist.
We will notice that despite being conferred the highest favors of all man-kind that Mary's life was no piece of cake. She immediately had the dilemma of not being married and being with child. In those times you not only had to worry about what your future husband (Joseph for all intents and purposes was already her husband at the time according to Jewish custom) thought, you also had to worry about getting stoned to death for adultery. Considering this prospect would be difficult enough on an adult, let alone a 14 to 16-year-old virgin. When thinking of our Lady's dilemma I can't help but think of the parents I witness escorting their children to the abortion clinics so that their children may have their grandchildren murdered. Maybe they give their teenage daughter a lollipop after the "procedure" is accomplished and many of them probably go to Church the next day. I know a deathscort those that escort the mothers into the killing chambers - who is a Christian "minister". On Saturdays he ministers to the death of the innocent and on Sunday's he ministers to his fellow "Christians".
Charity, such as the type shown by the Blessed Virgin Mary towards her cousin Elizabeth and the child in Elizabeth's womb puts the existence (one must be conceived in order to exist and one must exist in order to be saved), and then the salvation of another soul, above any inconvenience our physical body might have to undergo for the sake of the existence and salvation of others.
So allowing the conception and birth of Jesus does not lead the Blessed Virgin to any sort of self-assurance or compel her to rest on her laurels, instead, she immediately heads on a long and tiring journey to her cousin's house when thievery and even murder was commonplace for those not traveling in groups. She is not putting her personal desires first or better yet she is so conformed to the will of God that her personal desire is to help others in their time of need without counting the cost. She trusts in God's providence while at the same time cooperating with God's grace to attend to another's needs.
When considering the value of our Lady's action of immediately (she trusted our Lord enough to know that His plan would be fulfilled even though she would be gone for three months and she would have to let Joseph know of her pregnancy when she came back) taking the long journey to help Elizabeth and Zacharias it is important to consider the age of Elizabeth and how her elderly husband probably was not as physically able to tend to his wife's needs as a young child like Mary was.
And life for the most holy Queen does not get any easier after this long journey she makes. One could be tempted to think that since she consented to having the child and was so favored by God that God would make life easy for her or at least not allow things to be more difficult than normal. Later, in the next mystery, we will discuss the difficulty she had in finding a place to have her child.
Some people, even now, have an Old Covenant understanding of things - thinking - if I am close to the Lord, I will be blessed with many children, cattle, much food and material goods. And if I turn my back on the Lord or worship false idols I will lose my children and all my material goods. I have actually known someone who thought that a dear sweet lady with polio found herself to be in that condition because she was not close to God! By that "logic" we would have to assume that Jesus was not close to God either! I knew this lady with polio and she seemed pretty close to God to me. She had a wonderful attitude towards her condition and offered her condition to God.
No sir, good people suffer, and this suffering, though sometimes a direct result of some particular personal offense of theirs against God is not always the reason for their suffering; though all human suffering is the result of Original Sin.
When talking about people who have suffered greatly having also been close to God, and in fact how many people suffer more in this life precisely because they become closer to God we by no means intend to deter anybody from getting closer to our Lord for fear of things becoming more difficult. This brings to mind the unforeseen ordeal I went through after I consecrated myself to the Blessed Virgin the first time. I went through some small suffering compared to what I would have felt in Purgatory had I not gone through the suffering now with the result being my detachment from selfish inclinations. That being said, I was afraid to consecrate myself to our Lady again until (9 years later! I am a timid fool rather than a Saint in the making it seems) this past February 2nd, and guess what - I was confronted with a bad ordeal (for the first time in years) again, which I am still going through (to the point where I am afraid to consecrate myself again this year but might please pray for me). But this second ordeal is not as bad as the first time so the first purge must have been rather significant. This purging is something that MUST be done now or later. And we must know with a great certainty that it is far better to be purged in this life than in the next. So do it friends. Consecrate yourself to our Lady; chances are that you will begin to see great blessings in your life rather than having to go through a great ordeal. But no matter what happens it will be incredibly beneficial to your salvation and will save you much worse suffering in the long run.
What I want to do when writing about the benefits of suffering is to encourage people that are going through tough times but also to make clear how, usually, if we are listening to the Word of God, pondering it in our hearts, and acting upon it as our Lady did, then our suffering, rather than being a sign of condemnation is a sign of our being on the road to salvation. God chastises those whom He loves. Those who embrace God's will fully, embrace the cross of Christ with greater ease so that when they are suffering more - that suffering does not seem as bad as it would seem to those not as close to our Lord.
Suffering is a great gift given to us by our Loving Father for our God and Father is hard on us for the same reason our human fathers and teachers have been hard on us - to make us better people; for it is through the punishment and reproval God sends our way that His children become "perfected as the Heavenly Father is perfect" during this life as "gold is refined in the fire" so at our judgment we "may see the face of God and live!"
When considering the suffering that must have been endured by Mary during this long journey to her cousin's house we can also consider how joyful this journey must have been - knowing that she carried the Eternal Word within her.
"My yoke is easy and My burden is light" says Jesus. And it is for those who are united to Him as Mary is. Doing the work of the Lord becomes a joy no matter how burdensome it seems precisely because it is the work of the Lord. Physically our Lady was carrying our Lord on this journey but perhaps in actuality you could say it was our Lord Who was carrying our Lady.
And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy" (Luke 1:41, 44).
Although he was conceived in sin - original sin - like other men, Saint John the Baptist was born sinless because he was sanctified in his mother's womb by the presence of Jesus Christ (then in Mary's womb) and of the Blessed Virgin. On receiving this grace of God Saint John rejoices by leaping with joy in his mother's womb - thereby fulfilling the archangel's prophecy (cf. Luke 1:15).
Saint John Chrysostom comments on this scene of the Gospel:
"See how new and how wonderful this mystery is. He has not yet left the womb but he speaks by leaping; he is not yet allowed to cry out but he makes himself heard by his actions (...); he has not yet seen the light but he points out the Sun; he has not yet been born and he is keen to act as Precursor. The Lord is present, so he cannot contain himself or wait for nature to run its course: he wants to break out of the prison of his mother's womb and he makes sure he witnesses to the fact that the Savior is about to come" (Sermo apud Metaphr., mense Julio).
When thinking of John the Baptist I recall how false Christians are disturbed about how Catholics give honor to people instead of only honoring God. "No other man born of women was greater than he" said Jesus about John the Baptist. Yet some people have a problem with the great esteem which true practicing Catholics have for Mary as did Elizabeth and the Holy Ghost - Who spoke through Elizabeth - obviously do when they exclaim the "Blessed art thou amongst women" forever etched in Holy Writ. The Jews of the time would understand this phrase to mean "more blessed art thou than all women." Blessed are you among women. You have women and then you have Mary who is "Blessed" among women. The angel who proclaimed "Hail, full of grace" knew who she was as did Elizabeth who was filled with the Holy Ghost at the voice of the Mother of her Lord when the child in the womb was sanctified cleansed of Original Sin. And what she says here is important enough to be written in Scripture. So you can bank on these recorded truths about Mary as being factual. As apolitically correct as it may seem to some nowadays, some people do have more important roles in life and in salvation history than others and deserve more honor than others.
The 6-month-old child in Elizabeth's womb leapt at the presence of the much younger child forming in Mary's womb.
When considering the murder of children in the womb we must consider the arguments presented by people that will bring up the hard cases which constitute the 1 to 3% of the 1.3 million or so surgical abortions that are performed each year. Can you imagine the total amount of abortions a year (about 7.5 million) there really are in this country when considering all the chemical abortions that are done through the chemical contraceptives which when they fail to stop conception - abort the child as a backup by not allowing the child to stay attached to uterine wall? Many do not realize that only the condom is "safe" regarding abortion. It is just not safe morally in preventing you from going to Hell or when it comes to conceiving a child or getting the AIDS virus and things like that however. Go ahead and tell the children condoms are safe but be willing to live and die with the consequences. Woe to thee that scandalizes these little ones. There will be Hell to pay (quite literally).
I often wonder how many "unwanted" babies there would be if people would not engage in the marital act until they were married. And how many fewer dead brothers and sisters we would have who have passed on without our even knowing them or even knowing that they existed in the case of those whose parents practice or practiced chemical contraceptives - these countless children who die at the will of or as the result of the contraceptive practices of their very own parents. Hitler wanted to kill races and certain types of people who were "not up to par" so to speak but even he was not known to have his own child killed or his own race for that matter.
Regarding the hard cases that people bring up to "legitimize" the slaughter of the innocent, I refer you to my supplement that lets Judie Brown's American Life League speak in providing us with the answers at Murder of a Child in the Womb Can Never Be Legitimized! Ever!
"And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Luke 1:42).
These words are prayed by Catholics and others across the globe. Blessed indeed is the womb that bore Thee and the breasts that feed Thee Lord, and more blessed still are those who hear Thy Word and keep it as our Lady did perfectly.
Repetitive prayer - Don't Catholics engage in "vain repetitions" by praying that Hail Mary prayer over and over again? There are a few things I could say in response to this question.
For one - our Lord is talking about VAIN repetitions here. Blessing our Lady and the Fruit of her womb because she is the mother of God is not a VAIN repetition and asking her to intercede for us is not a VAIN repetition.
During the time this verse was written (and perhaps in modern times as well say at Assisi for instance) there were pagans who prayed to the gods by repeating certain formulas and incantations, slightly changing the words each time in the hope that if they got the formula right they would get what they desired. I'm not sure exactly how these incantations went or who they were prayed to but an example could go something like this. "Oh great god Zeus hear and answer me." "O very great god Zeus, I implore thee to heed my call." "O wonderful great Zeus, hear and answer me." And so on until they gave up making the request or got what they wanted.
This would be a legitimate example of a vain repetition - first of all because they were praying to a false god. Secondly; getting the words in the exact order or using the certain words in a formulaic sense is vain in that you cannot trick or coerce God into giving you what you want.
So our Lord is not condemning repetition at all anymore than your spouse would condemn you for saying "I love you" more than once in 40 years of marriage; or any more than God would condemn the angels for saying, "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord"; or a Christian for saying Our Lord's prayer more than once and so on. Our Lord Himself prayed the same prayer 3 consecutive times in Gethsemane, "Father that this cup may pass . . ."
For references to "Lord" and how we can address Him in respect, trust and adoration for healing see Matthew 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; Luke 2:11 John 20:28; 21:7.
So again the concern is on VAIN repetition.
Saint Bede comments that Elizabeth blesses Mary using the same words as the archangel
"to show that she should be honoured by angels and by men and why she should indeed be revered above all other women" (In Lucae Evangelium expositio, in loc.).
The Saint Pius X Catechism states:
When we say the Hail Mary we repeat these divine greetings, "rejoicing with Mary at her dignity as Mother of God and praising the Lord, thanking him for having given us Jesus Christ through Mary" (Saint Pius X Catechism, 333). (Navarre)
"And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43)
Elizabeth is moved by the Holy Spirit to call Mary "the mother of my Lord" thereby showing that Mary is the mother of God. (Navarre)
I believe the only "Christians" that do not believe that Jesus is God, conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary are the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses so technically all other "Christians" should believe that our Lady is the mother of God.
For references to Mary as mother of God see John 2:1 and 19:25-27.
Let us now look at Luke 1:43. "And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
Now let's look at 2 Kings/Samuel 6:9. "And David was afraid of the Lord that day saying: How shall the Ark of the Lord come to me?"
Below are some VERY interesting parallels between 2 Kings (2 Samuel 6) and Luke 1. I believe Luke had 2 Samuel in mind when he wrote this narrative, much as John had Genesis in mind when he started his Gospel with the words "In the beginning" and when he wrote the Apocalypse. The parallels between Genesis 3 and Revelation 11:19 - 12:18 is astonishing as well. Scripture begins our salvation history with four (Adam, Eve, Satan, and a good Angel) key players: "the man", "the women", "the serpent" and "an angel" that guarded the garden with a sword and Scripture ends with "an angel", "the dragon", "the woman" and surprises of surprise "the man-child".
The first parallel below is between the Ark of the Old Covenant, made of the purest gold (most pure) not to be touched by man (God slew the man that touched the Ark as perhaps some think God should slay those who would dare receive what they believe to be our Most Holy Lord in the hand though the ones who receive our Lord in the hand commit an objectively worse deed than the one who touched the Ark containing mere symbols of our Lord - the one who touched the Ark with his hand may not have had the excuse of ignorance about what he should not do as some may have today due to the "shepherds" they look to) containing the symbols of God - the manna, the rod and the tablets and the Ark of the New and Everlasting Covenant the most pure ever-virgin Mary who contained God Himself within the Sanctuary of her womb, the woman whom John describes seeing in Heaven, clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars. It is incredible how John goes from seeing the ark to describing "the woman" in the very next verse (Apocalypse 11:19 - 12:1). Read it through and try to keep the chapter divisions which we did not have until after the first millennia from disturbing the flow of the text. This helps clarify how "woman" is used in Genesis and how Jesus uses this term in the Gospels when referring to His mother and how John uses the exact same term when referring to his mother whom he took as his own after Jesus requested that he do so from the cross.
The more you learn about Scripture the less "coincidences" you find. The more you understand the Old Testament in correlation with the New Testament the more "alive" Scripture will become as a whole as you begin to understand it on deeper levels. In the below Scriptural parallels the bold black is from Samuel and the bold blue is from Luke and everything in (bold green italics) are my comments. In the passages below I show the relative passages in their entirety (for the sake of context) while intermingling the corresponding verses from Luke into the appropriate spots of Samuel. I then show the entire Luke passage highlighting the corresponding verses in context so you can see exactly where these parallels are coming from.
2 Kings 6: 1-14 (2 Samuel 6:1-14):
1 And David again gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose and went, And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda with all the people that were with him of the men of Juda to fetch the ark of God, upon which the name of the Lord of Hosts is invoked, who sitteth over it upon the cherubims. 3 And they laid the ark of God upon a new cart: and took it out of the house of Abinadab, who was in Gabaa, and Oza and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. 4 And when they had taken it out of the house of Abinadab, who was in Gabaa, Ahio having care of the ark of God went before the ark. 5 But David and all Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of wood, on harps and lutes and timbrels and cornets and cymbals. 6 And when they came to the floor of Nachon, Oza put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it: because the oxen kicked and made it lean aside. 7 And the indignation of the Lord was enkindled against Oza, and he struck him for his rashness: and he died there before the ark of God. 8 And David was grieved because the Lord had struck Oza, and the name of that place was called: The striking of Oza, to this day. 9 And David was afraid of the Lord that day, saying: How shall the ark of the Lord come to me? And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 10 And he would not have the ark of the Lord brought in to himself into the city of David: but he caused it to be carried into the house of Obededom the Gethite. 11 And the ark of the Lord abode in the house of Obededom the Gethite three months:
And Mary abode with her about three months and the Lord blessed Obededom, and all his household. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost 12 And it was told king David, that the Lord had blessed Obededom, and all that he had, because of the ark of God. So David went, and brought away the ark of God out of the house of Obededom into the city of David (David brings back the Ark to his own house) And she returned to her own house with joy. And there were with David seven choirs, and calves for victims. 13 And when they that carried the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed and ox and a ram: 14 And David danced with all his might before the Lord: the infant in my womb leaped for joy and David was girded with a linen ephod.
Luke 1: 26-56:
26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. 31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. 33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? (she was already betrothed to Joseph - this would be an incredibly stupid question unless she intended to remain a virgin, and Jesus was not just another one of her kids, he was her only child) 35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow (as sign of God's presence - shekanah (sp?) glory; a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day that overshadowed the Ark. Mary is the Ark of the New and everlasting Covenant and the spouse of the Holy Ghost for she conceived by Him.) thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren. 37 Because no word shall be impossible with God. 38 And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. 39 And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. 40 And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth. 41 And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. 46 And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is His name. 50 And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him. 51 He hath shewed might in his arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich He hath sent empty away. 54 He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy. 55 As He spoke to our fathers: to Abraham and to his seed for ever. 56 And Mary abode with her about three months. And she returned to her own house.
Now compare the Genesis 3 Narrative with Apocalypse 12. Just as the Gospel of John begins and ends with Mary (see chapter 2 & 19) so the whole compendium of the Bible and salvation history is book-ended with "the woman" (see Genesis 3 & Apocalypse 12). As we have seen Luke's narrative of the conception and birth of Christ corresponds with 2 Samuel 6 - a book I am sure Saint Luke was very familiar with. Also, Saint John, who wrote the Apocalypse which includes the battle of the serpent with "the woman" "and her seed - those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus", was familiar with the Genesis account in that he begins his gospel with "in the beginning" and continues later "on the second day" and "on the third day" and so on. Would you say this is all coincidence or would the word "God incidence" be a better word for it in that this was written by a couple of saints (Saint Luke & Saint John with God as the Primary Author) who were very familiar with our Lady, Genesis, Samuel and the rest of Holy Writ. Again, note also how there are four significant characters here, the serpent/dragon (Satan), Michael (the Archangel) the women (any guesses on who that may be?) and the child of the woman or man-child (Jesus).
Genesis 3: 1-24: And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. 28 Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished...
Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise? 2 And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die. 4 And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death. 5 For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband, who did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons. 8 And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. 9 And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? 10 And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. 11 And He said to him: And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? 12 And Adam said: The woman, whom Thou gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat. 14 And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. 15 I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. (There are two occasions in the OT where a woman crushes the head of the evil one. Judith is one of them.) 16 To the woman also He said: I will multiply thy sorrows (Mary's soul will be pierced by as sword; see Simeon's prophecy), and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee. 17 And to Adam He said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee, that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work: with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. 18 Thorns (Jesus wears a crown of thorns) and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. 19 In the sweat (Jesus sweats blood) of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. 20 And Adam called the name of his wife Eve: because she was the mother of all the living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins, and clothed them. 22 And He said: Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing good and evil: now therefore lest perhaps he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. 23 And the Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken. 24 And He cast out Adam: and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims, and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life (the cross).
John 19: 26-28:
When Jesus therefore had seen His mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, He saith to His mother: Woman, behold thy son. 27 After that, He saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother.
When Jesus left us He gave us Himself in the Holy Eucharist, He sent us His Spirit the Holy Ghost - and He gave us His Mother. All three of these Gifts were necessary aids for us in God's grand design in regards to our Salvation. For this reason it was very important for Jesus to give us His Mother during one of the very most significant points in recorded history when He declared that the "disciple" (a disciple is one who obeys God and is faithful to Christ) was the son of Mary and that Mary was to be considered the mother of the "disciple" (for only then were "all things accomplished").
Apocalypse 11:19, 12: 1-18
19 And the temple of God was opened in Heaven: and the ark of His testament was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings and voices and an earthquake and great hail. And a great sign appeared in Heaven: A woman (Mary the Ark) clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child (Jesus), she cried travailing in birth: and was in pain to be delivered. 3 And there was seen another sign in Heaven. And behold a great red dragon (Satan), having seven heads and ten horns and on his heads seven diadems. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of Heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered: that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. 5 And she brought forth a man child, Who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her son was taken up to God and to His throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her, a thousand two hundred sixty days. 7 And there was a great battle in Heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels. 8 And they prevailed not: neither was their place found any more in Heaven. 9 And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world. And he was cast unto the earth: and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in Heaven, saying: Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ: because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of the testimony: and they loved not their lives unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens, and you that dwell therein. Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time. 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man child. 14 And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert, unto her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth, after the woman, water, as it were a river: that he might cause her to be carried away by the river. 16 And the earth helped the woman: and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed (her children), who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (that's what I or any person who tries to be a good Christian does, I would think) 18 And he stood upon the sand of the sea.
The woman is Mary, and her seed are those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. What self-proclaimed Christian dare say that Mary is not his mother!
"And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord"
Luke 1: 45.
As blessed as Mary is for having the child, she is even more blessed for hearing God's word and keeping it.
Mary is rightfully called blessed because of Who it was that she allowed to come into the world by agreeing to become the Mother of God. But she is even more blessed for hearing God's word and "keeping" it in a more excellent and intimate way than any other created being.
Our blessedness comes from God and is the result of our endurance, our perseverance, our "abiding" faith, our hearing God's word and "keeping" it.
And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior
Luke 1: 46-47.
These first lines of Mary's Magnificat are the only ones that we are going to be able to go into in any detail. This is a poem of singular beauty. It evokes certain passages of the Old Testament (which I will list at the end of this meditation) with which our Mother would have been very familiar with.
In verses 46-7 Mary glorifies God for making her the Mother of the Savior, which is why future generations will call her blessed; she shows that the Incarnation is a mysterious expression of God's power and holiness and mercy.
Very briefly, if you should have time to read the rest of the canticle, you will notice Mary teaches us that the Lord has always had a preference for the humble, resisting the proud and boastful verses 51-53.
And lastly, in verses 54-55, she proclaims that God, in keeping with His promise, has always taken special care of the chosen people of the Old Covenant - and now does them the greatest honor of all by becoming a Jew (Romans 1:3). So take heed those of us in the New and Everlasting Covenant not to forsake Him as the non-Christian Jews have or the same thing will happen to us as has happened to them and as we were grafted onto the vine when they fell; so too if we fall our Lord will go out into the streets and find anyone He can to take our place (cf. Matthew 22: 9-10, Luke 14: 23).
Again, for the sake of brevity, I did not elaborate much on verses 48-55, but if you want to love Jesus with the love of Mary and appreciate what He has done, is doing, and will do for us with the appreciation of Mary, it would do you good to meditate on these and the correlating verses that I will list at the end of this meditation and make them your own. Take them into your heart and try to keep them there, as it were.
"The first fruits of the Holy Spirit are peace and joy. And the Blessed Virgin had received within herself all the grace of the Holy Spirit" (Saint Basil, In Psalmos homiliae, on Psalm 32). Mary's soul overflows in the words of the Magnificat. God's favors cause every humble soul to feel joy and gratitude. In the case of the Blessed Virgin God has bestowed more on her than on any other creature. "Virgin Mother of God, He Whom the heavens cannot contain, on becoming man, enclosed Himself within your womb." (This little prayer is in the Roman missal in prayer to God, thanking Him for His gift to us through Mary.) The humble Virgin of Nazareth is going to be the Mother of God; the Creator's omnipotence has never before manifested itself in as complete a way as this. (Navarre Bible commentary)
I will close now by sharing the verses of Marys Magnificat with the correlating verses. Remember the Psalms in the modern bibles are usually one higher than in the Latin Vulgate. As a guide, I will list the verse in Luke that it correlates with to eliminate confusion. It may also be good to keep in mind that the Douay Rheims Bible which is the most literal and accurate of all translations lists the books of Kings as 1, 2, 3, 4 Kings whereas other Bibles render the listing 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings.
OLD TESTAMENT 1 Samuel/Kings 2:1-10, 11
1 Samuel/Kings 22: 28, 51
Psalm 113 or 112: 5-6
Psalm 111 or 110: 13, 17
Psalm 89 or 88: 11
Psalm 147 or 146: 6
Psalm 33 or 32: 10
Psalm 107 or 106: 9
1 Samuel/Kings 2: 5
Psalm 34 or 33: 11
Isaiah 41: 8
Isaiah 51: 9
Psalm 98 or 97: 3
Genesis 17:7, 9
Luke 1: 46 |
Luke 1: 46
Luke 1: 48
Luke 1: 50
Luke 1: 50
Luke 1: 51
Luke 1: 51
Luke 1: 51
Luke 1: 51
Luke 1: 53
Luke 1: 53
Luke 1: 54-56
Luke 1: 53
Luke 1: 53
Luke 1: 55
Luke 1: 55
Luke 1: 55
Luke 1: 55
"And Mary abode with her about three months; and she returned to her own house" (Luke 1:56).
Let us also return to "our house" - to dwell within and contemplate the wonders of the Joyful Mysteries and the great sacrifices Our Lady offered and strive to offer prayer, penance and sacrifice on these last two Ember Days of Advent in preparation for the joyful event that changed the course of salvation history - the Arrival of the long-promised Messiah which I will treat with the next installment: The Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Catholics who remain faithful to Tradition, even if they are reduced to but a handful, they are THE TRUE CHURCH" Saint Athanasius, "Apostle of Tradition" AD 373