Understand and love Christ by better
understanding and loving His Mother
Jesus Christ is Our Lord and Savior, and the Catholic Faith proclaims the full truth about Mary’s role in our salvation through Christ. Included in Mary’s role is her Immaculate Conception, which means that she was free from sin (including Original Sin) from the moment of her conception, but where is that concept in the Bible?
Scripture directly and indirectly helps us to understand and proclaim Mary’s Immaculate Conception, as we consider:
Mary is the Immaculate Ark of the New Covenant
- In Exodus 25:11-21, the Ark of the Old Covenant was made of the purest gold because it held God’s Word in the 10 Commandments written by His own hand. As the Ark of the New Covenant, Mary is the purest human vessel (free from Original Sin) for the Word of God made Flesh.
- In 2 Samuel 6:7, the Ark is so holy and pure that when Uzzah (Oza) touched it, the Lord slew him. This event shows us that the Ark must remain untouched and undefiled. As the Ark of the New Covenant, Mary is and remains completely immaculate and undefiled; this includes God’s choice to save Mary before she was conceived and thus create her as the Immaculate Conception who is free from Original Sin and free from sin eternally so that she could worthily bear and nurture His Eternal Word made Flesh.
- 1 Chronicles 13:9-10 provides another account of Uzzah and the Ark of the Old Covenant, and if God is so concerned that no person touch this Ark, then He is equally (if not more) concerned about His only Son. Thus for Christ to dwell within Mary, the Ark, she had to be conceived without sin, so that she was not even momentarily in the service of satan, who is God’s enemy. To think otherwise is inconsistent with Christ’s dignity and would mean that God would let satan affect the creation of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh. This dynamic is incomprehensible.
The Immaculate Conception is also completely consistent with the beginning of the Bible where in Genesis 3:15 we see that God “…will put enmity between you and the woman…”. If that enmity exists, then Mary must never have been touched by satan, even when she was conceived.
We see in 1 Chronicles 15 and 16 that the Jews venerated (not worshiped) the Ark of the Old Covenant through vestments, songs, harps, lyres, cymbals, and trumpets. Should we not venerate Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, in equally (if not more) respectful ways?
Important Scripture parallels also underscore the reality of Mary as the undefiled and immaculately conceived Ark of the New Covenant. Consider Luke 1 in the New Testament and 2 Samuel 6 in the Old Testament.
- In Luke 1, Mary (the Ark of the new Covenant holding Jesus within her) “arose and went” (cf Luke 1:39) to the hill country in Judah, while in 2 Samuel 6:2, David “arose and went” to the Ark of the Old Covenant that was kept temporarily in the same hill country.
- Luke 1:41-44 / 2 Samuel 6:16: John the Baptist (as a baby within the womb of Elizabeth) leapt for joy (Luke 1:44) before the pregnant Mary (the Ark of the New Covenant) just as King David leapt for joy when greeting the Jewish Ark of the Old Covenant. We should also spiritually leap for joy before Mary, the immaculate Ark of the Word made Flesh.
- Luke 1:43 / 2 Samuel 6:9: King David and Mary’s cousin Elizabeth each ask: How can the (Ark of the Lord/Mother of my Lord, respectively) come to me?
- Luke 1:56 / 2 Samuel 6:11 (and 1 Chronicles 13:14): Mary and the Ark of the Old Covenant each remained “in the house” in the hill country of Judah for about three months.
From Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, to Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, support for Mary’s Immaculate Conception can be found, so let’s look at just a few of the relevant passages in Revelation 11 and 12:
- Revelation 11:19: At the time when St. John was exiled on Patmos and received the visions that he described in Revelation, the Ark of the Old Covenant had not been seen for 600 years (2 Maccabees 2:7). During John’s visions on Patmos, he sees the Ark in heaven, and the Jewish people (including John) would have been absolutely amazed at this scene.
- In the next verse, however (which is Revelation 12:1), John immediately passes over this beautiful vision and proceeds to describe an even more wonderful sight: The “woman” clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet (as we also see in the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe) and a crown of 12 stars on her head
- (Remember that Revelation 11:19 and Revelation 12:1 are tied together, because no chapters and verses existed when these texts were written.
- John’s connection helps to reinforce the reality that Mary is:
- the Ark of the New Covenant
- like the Old Ark, now worthy of veneration and praise.
Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Mary, with the moon under her feet, reflects the immaculate glory of the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ.
- In Revelation 12:17, we see that:
- Mary’s offspring are those who:
- keep God’s commandments, which we also see in Luke 11:28.
- bear testimony to Jesus.
- As the Mother of all Christians (and as Catholics have always believed), Mary can be nothing less than the Immaculate Conception, as she proclaimed to St. Bernadette at Lourdes in 1857 and as the Scriptures have always supported.
- Mary’s offspring are those who:
We can summarize thoughts about the Immaculate Conception by paraphrasing paragraph 491 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Throughout the centuries, the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. Thus the Church placed this truth beyond doubt by declaring it to be an Article of Faith (http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9ineff.htm).
In one way or another, every word of the Bible reflects the reality of Jesus, and many direct or indirect references to Mary are also found in Scripture. Learn about Our Lady and her role in God’s plan for salvation; ponder her role in your own heart as Mary herself did (Luke 2:19, 51); then love Our Lady and she will lead us closer to her Son, Jesus.
It is a holy privilege that Our Mother wants to:
- come to us
- lead us to deeper and more substantive knowledge of and love for Jesus
- help us even with many of the “little things” in life, just as she did for St. Juan Diego by arranging the roses in his tilma (poncho) when she appeared to him as Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
St. Juan Diego, pray for us.
Praise be Jesus Christ!
Content edited and adapted from:
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church; English translation for the USA 1997. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Imprimi Potest Josef Cardinal Ratzinger. United States Catholic Conference, 3211 4th St NE, Washington, DC, 20017-1194; http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm, and especially paragraphs 491 and 2853
- John Salza Apologetics; Scripture Catholic; the Blessed Virgin Mary http://www.scripturecatholic.com/blessed_virgin_mary.html