Saturday, April 14, 2007

Our Blessed Mother - Part 2

Last night, in part 1 of this series on Mary we discussed typology. Additionally, we discussed why it is we as Catholics refer to Mary as Theotokas, or the Mother of God. Today we will complete this series with a discussion of Our Lady’s sinless nature.

Mary is Sinless

As St. Luke’s gospel explains, the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, "Hail, Full of Grace." In Greek, this is translated as "Chaire, kecharitomene" (KIY-RAY, KAY-Car-E-TOE-Ma-NAY). Now that is a mouthful, eh? Say it 5 times really fast if you don’t believe me.

Chaire is best translated as "Rejoice" or as the notable apologist Tim Staples explains it to younger folks; it might be translated in today's language as "Whoaaa" or "Awesome." This is very important as it shows how this powerful Angel, who does battle with Satan himself, approaches this little 15-year-old girl and says, "Whoaaa." In other places throughout scripture when men meet Angels they usually fall to the ground in veneration since they are in the presence of such Holiness. St. John does this "nose dive" a few times to this same Angel, Gabriel, in the book of Revelation.

Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of the verb charitoo, which when translated means, “one who has been perfected in grace.” This means there has been a past action that has resulted in a present perfect state. The Blessed Virgin Mary was in this perfect state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence, demonstrating her sinlessness.

You and I are struggling to become perfected in grace. Sin is the absence, rejection, or lack of grace, and since Mary had already obtained this level of perfection, she began and continued her life sinless. Some non Catholics argue that since the Bible states in Romans 3:23 “all have sinned,” this includes Our Blessed Mother. But we know this “all” is not actually “all” since Jesus Christ didn’t sin, nor do infants or the severely mentally challenged. A non Catholic may claim that Jesus didn’t sin because He is God. To that, the Catholic should respond, “Amen, and Mary is the Mother of God – which is why she did not sin either.” A text taken out of context is pretext, and this is precisely what non Catholics attempt to do with this “all have sinned” verse.

An important note is that even though Mary was sinless, she still needed a Savior as she clearly stated in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).

Mary – Immaculately Conceived

To understand how Mary was perfected in grace due to a past action, Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant, must be discussed.

God instructed Moses to build the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was to be constructed in an exact manner. Everything from the type of wood (acasia) to the pristine gold covering was explained to him. To put it into today’s context, God gave Moses the Bill of Materials as well as the architectural instructions.

Once the Ark of the Covenant was constructed, three things were placed inside it: 1) the tablets of the Decalogue, 2) a gomor of manna, and 3) the rod of Aron. In summary, the Ark of the Covenant contained some serious things! Subsequently, sinful men (or women) could not touch the Ark. If they did, they were killed. This was demonstrated when Uzzah, the son of Abinadab, was killed for touching the Ark after the oxen carrying it slipped causing the Ark to nearly fall to the ground. Uzzah was simply trying to steady the Ark so it wouldn’t fall. Unfortunately, there were two primary issues this particular day. The first was the Ark of the Covenant was to be carried in a certain way (using a pole which was to be placed through two circular rings); and second, sinful men were not to touch the Ark of the Covenant at any time – no exceptions. This demonstrates how Holy and sacred the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant was.

The Old Testament Ark of the Covenant was a type of the New Testament Ark of the Covenant – Our Blessed Mother Mary. The Old Testament Ark carried three types of Jesus Christ, while the Blessed Virgin carried in her womb the Word made Flesh – Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Word. Jesus Christ is God.

In St. Luke’s Gospel, the image of Mary being the New Ark of the Covenant becomes crystal clear. The Angel Gabriel proclaims to Mary, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow (Greek: EPISKIADZO) you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Similarly, in Exodus 40:34 and 35 it reads, “Then the cloud covered (Greek: EPISKIADZO) the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

Further, the parallels showing Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant continue when St. Luke’s Gospel is compared to the Old Testament Book of 2 Samuel.

2 Samuel 6:2 - Then David and all the people who were with him set out for Baala of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which bears the name of the LORD of hosts enthroned above the cherubim.
Luke 1:39 - 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.

2 Samuel 6:9 - And David was afraid of the LORD that day; and said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?"
Luke 1:43 - And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

2 Samuel 6:11 - And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months; and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and his whole house.
Luke 1:56 - And Mary remained with her (Elizabeth) about three months, and then returned to her home.

2 Samuel 6:16 - As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Saul's daughter Michal looked down through the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD.
Luke 1:41 - And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb

The parallels and similarities of the above passages are clear and to claim they do not foreshadow Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant is both unbiblical and naive.

To conclude, Moses was given explicit instructions of how to build the Ark. It was also explained that sinful men were not to touch the Ark. It had to be so meticulously made because it was to carry a TYPE of Jesus. Since Our Blessed Mother carried Jesus Christ in her womb, God prepares her meticulously in St. Ann’s womb. If we are to say that Mary was born with original sin, then we must conclude she is inferior to her Old Testament type which is simply not tenable - if you understand typology.

In addition to the Ark of the Covenant explanation, there is yet another topic that should be addressed as it relates to Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

In John 2:4, we see Mary explaining to Jesus that the wine was failing at the wedding feast of Cana. Jesus replied to His Mother, “What to me, and to you, woman?” Or as the current translations state, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." Some claim that Jesus is demeaning His Mother here since he calls her “woman.” However, the Greek word for woman used by Jesus here was gunê (goo-nay). Jesus followed the commandments; therefore, he would never put his Mother down in public since in those days that type of treatment was punishable by death. Interestingly enough, Jesus also refers to Mary as gunê (woman) as he is dieing on the cross and hands her over to St. John. No, Jesus is not putting his Mother down here. Quite the contrary, Jesus is actually exalting her as he names her the New Eve. In Genesis 3:15, after the fall of Adam and Eve, God promises a Messiah will be born when he states, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman (gunê), and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The gunê (woman) is Mary. After understanding the whole picture, it becomes clear that Jesus intended to name His Mother the New Eve. This was known and explained by many of the early Church Fathers. St. Irenaeus, for example, refers to Mary as the New Eve in 180 AD.

By identifying Mary as the New Eve, we can now offer even more evidence to her Immaculate Conception. This is possible since we know that both Adam and Eve were immaculately conceived. They were perfect. It wasn’t until Eve chose death over life, by giving into Satan’s temptation, that this perfection was corrupted. If Eve was immaculately conceived, and all New Testament types are immeasurably superior to their Old Testament type, it is obvious that Mary had to have been Immaculately Conceived.

If you enjoyed this series on Mary I kindly request, as I am just starting this blog, you forward this link to as many friends and loved one as possible. I deeply appreciate it.

God bless you!

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