Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mary :- Ark of the New Covenant

My post, Was St. James Jesus Brother, stirred up a lot of off-line conversation.  This is good, because one of the main purposes of this blog is to be a catalyst for conversations, whether you believe in what I am sharing about the Catholic faith or not.  During one of those conversations, I brought up the fact that Mary is the Ark of tne New Covenant.  This is something that my friends had not heard before, and being brought up in the Protestant tradition, I had only recently heard of this while I studying Catholic teaching.  During this post, I am going to share with you, what I have learned regarding Mary being the Ark of the New Covenant.

From a logical standpoint, it is very easy to see how the Virgin Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant.  The Ark of the Old Covenant was pregnant with the Word of God inscribed in stone.  It was the most holy item amongst the Jews.  It was so holy, in fact, that some made a mistake and touched it or even approached it in a unworthy manner, and immediately fell dead (1 Samuel 6:19; 2 Samuel 6:2-7).  The Ark of the Old Covenant was not forged on a whim.  God was explicit on how it should be made, even to be gold within and gold without (Exodus 25:11, 37:2).

Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, because she was pregnant with the Word of God inscribed in flesh. If the Ark of the Old Covenant was made by human hands to be gold within and gold without, how much more holy would the Ark of the New Covenant be made by God's Hands?

St. John reveals to us that the Ark of the New Covenant is a woman, in the book of Revelation.  Scott Hahn, in his book Hail Holy Queen, gives us a chance to read the scriptures from a Jewish perspective when he says:

"Imagine that you are a first-century reader, raised as a Jew.  You have never seen the ark, but all your religious and cultural upbringing has taught you to long for it's restoration in the temple.  John builds anticipation so that he almost seems to be teasing such readers by describing the sound and fury accompanying the ark.  The dramatic tension becomes nearly unbearable.  The reader wants to see the ark, as John sees it...John shows us the ark of the covenant-and it is a woman." (Hail Holy Queen, Scott Hahn p.54)

The Scripture passage that Scott is referring to is:

"Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head." (Revelation 11:19-12:1)

In Hail Holy Queen, Scott Hahn continues to build the evidence to show that Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, through the writings of Luke, and how Lukes writings of Mary visiting Elizabeth parallel as to when David travels to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem:

"The story begins as David "arose and went" (2 Sam 6:2).  Luke's account of the visitation begins with the same words: Mary "arose and went" (Luke 1:39).  In their journeys, then, both Mary and David proceeded to the hill counry of Judah.  David acknowledges his unworthiness with the words "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?" (2 Sam 6:9)-- words we find echoed as Mary aproaches her kinswoman Elizabeth: "Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43).  Note here that the sentence is almost verbatim, except that "ark" is replaced by "mother".  We read further that David "danced" for joy in the presence of the ark (2 Sam 6:14, 16), and we find a similar expression tused to describe the leaping of the child within Elizabeth's womb as Mary approached (Luke 1:44).  Finally, the ark remained in the hill country for three months (2 Sam 6:11), the same amount of time mary spent with Elizabeth (Luke 1:56)" (Hail Holy Queen, Scott Hahn, p64)

During my conversion process, I can easily say that the Catholic approach and understanding of Mary was one of the biggest stumbling blocks for me.  I am forever grateful to Hail, Holy Queen, and other resources to helping me understand the biblical basis for venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary and the role that she plays in salvation history.

God bless.

1 comment:

Madeleines Photos and Blog said...

Great Post, great topic.
I was an evangelical protestant for most of my life, until one day about ten years ago, the question came to me: why am I so uncomfortable with Mary and the over 2,000 year old Church?
Dr Scott Hahn's books have been a great help to me as well.
God bless you!