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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Biblical Proof of Mary’s Immaculate Conception II

As promised in my previous post, this blog entry is dedicated to offer further Biblical evidence of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

Previously, it was made clear from the typology that exists between Eve and Mary that the latter was the Second Eve, whom God protected from the stain of Original Sin.  Another typology in the Bible that cannot be ignored is the Ark of the Covenant foreshadowing the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The chest-like object in the OT was made of incorruptible acacia wood that was covered with pure gold.  The spiritual meaning of these two elements when the Ark is seen as a reference to Mary is that Mary is also incorruptible.  She is empty of any sin that would render her corrupt.  Now, let us look at the evidence from the Scriptures.

The Ark of the Old Covenant contained the two tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written (Exodus 25:16). The Ten Commandments are the word of God.  Likewise, Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant contained the “Son of God,” the “Word made flesh” inside her womb (Luke 1:35, John 1:14).  The Ark of the Old Covenant had the Rod of Aaron, which represents priesthood (Hebrews 9:4); Mary bore inside her womb “Jesus our great High Priest” (Hebrews 4:14).  “Inside the Ark, was a golden jar containing manna,” which the Israelites in the OT “ate” and yet they “died” (Hebrews 9:4; John 6:58)).  The Blessed Virgin carried inside her womb the “true bread from heaven” on which whoever feeds “will live forever” (John 6:32,58).  

If all this is not enough for my reader to be convinced that God intended the Ark of Covenant to foreshadow the person of Mary, let us delve deeper into Scriptures and see what the word of God tells us.  Using plain language commonly known to OT writers, Luke indicates the significance of the Ark in the OT by comparing it to Mary during the Annunciation and the Visitation.

In the OT, the Ark represented the physical presence of God among the Israelites.  When it was brought into the “tabernacle,” it became “overshadowed” by the Spirit of the Lord and “the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:21, 34).  The same word is used to describe the Spirit’s presence over Mary when Gabriel gave her the good news, “The power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).  Immediately after the Annunciation, Mary takes a trip that is reminiscent of another trip taken by the Ark in the OT.  King David wanted to transport the Ark to Jerusalem, a city in Judea.  He brought “the Ark of God” to “the house of Obed-Edom, which was on the hill” country of Judea (2 Samuel 6:2,3).  In like manner, Mary “arose and went into the hill country, to a city in Judah” (Luke 1:39).  The house of Obed-Edom was “blessed” by the presence of the Ark (2 Samuel 6:11).  The word “blessed” is used three times in reference to Mary being in Elizabeth’s house (Luke 1:39-45).  David “danced with all his might” in front of the Ark while he “was wearing a linen ephod,” a priestly garment (2 Samuel 6:14). John the Baptist, a priest’s son, who himself was destined to be a priest, “leaped” with joy in Elizabeth’s “womb” at the presence of Mary (Luke 1:41).  David and his company greeted the Ark with loud “shouts of joy” (2 Samuel 6:15).  Elizabeth also “shouted with a loud voice and said to Mary, ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb’” (Luke 1:42).  David said, “how is it the Ark of the Lord should come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:9).  Elizabeth asks the same question about Mary, “How is it the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43).  The Ark of the Lord “remained for three months in the house of Obed-Edom” (2 Samuel 6:11).  Conversely, Mary “remained” in the house of Elizabeth “for three months” (Luke 1:56).  After “three months,” the Ark was brought into Jerusalem to its resting place in the Temple where the “glory of God filled the house of the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:12, 1 Kings 8:9-11).  Mary also went back to her house “after three months” and eventually “took Jesus” to the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 1:56, 2:22). 

Finally, our last piece of evidence brings us back to John the Apostle, to whom Mary was entrusted as a “mother” by Our Lord Jesus (John 19:27).  St. John writes in his Book of Revelation “the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple” (Revelation 11:19).  This is the last verse in chapter 11. In the next verse, he writes “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).   Keep in mind that the chapter divisions were only introduced during the medieval times.  Prior to that, the chapters were one big chunk of text, unbroken and undivided, pronouncing more clearly the relation between the Ark and the woman.  They are one.  The “Ark” of the New Covenant is the “Woman” who appears in heaven.  Later on in the chapter, this “woman” gives birth to a “son, a male child who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter” (Revelation 12:5).  Who would this child be other than the “seed” of the “woman,” which was destined to “crush” the “head” of the Serpent? (Genesis 3:15).  If this child is none other than Jesus, then the “woman” is none other than “the mother of Jesus” Our Holy Mother Mary (John 2:3).

No serious reader of the Bible can deny these truths that are inspired by the Holy Spirit.  No serious scholar of the Scriptures can deny the clear indications that demonstrate the undeniable similarities between the Ark of the Old Covenant and Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant.  This brings us to a conclusion, which if denied, can be a great stumbling block in our path for salvation.  The same reverence and veneration that were offered to the Ark of the Old Covenant must likewise be also given to the Ark of the New Covenant.  In fact, when Uzza touched the Ark of the Old Covenant undeservingly, the Lord “struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God” (2 Samuel 6:7).  What would happen if anyone disrespects our Holy Mother in any way?  What would happen if anyone attributes any sinfulness to her?  Those who do, stand on a very dangerous ground.  Finally, if God wanted to create a woman and protect her from the stain of original sin, would it be possible for Him?  Could He do it if He wanted to?  The answer is of course He can. God can do anything He wants, including designing a woman from scratch who will bear His Son in her womb.  Those who deny Mary’s Immaculate Conception are denying God’s power and majesty.  May our Holy Mother shower us with her maternal love and bring us closer to her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Biblical Proof of Mary’s Immaculate Conception I

The doctrine of Immaculate Conception in the Catholic faith states that God preserved Mary from the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception.  The Blessed Virgin was born without a sin according to God’s will.  God the Father handed this gift to her, so that she may fulfill her role as the “Mother of the Lord” in the plan of salvation (Luke 1:43).  Like many other foundational doctrines of the Christian faith, such as Trinity, there is no one verse in the Bible that states the doctrine of Immaculate Conception.  Instead, an in-depth analysis of certain Biblical passages is required for a reader to discern this truth from the Sacred Scriptures.

It is important that we understand typology in the Bible before we say anything about Mary.  Typology is when a person, an object or an action in the Old Testament refers to a person, an object, or an action in the New Testament. The Bible is full of those. Lord Jesus says, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mathew 12:40).  In this passage, Our Lord is teaching us how to read the Scriptures, by identifying types in the OT with figures in the NT.  In this case, Jonah is a type of Jesus, and the three days inside the whale correspond to the three days Our Lord’s body remained inside the grave.  Adam in the OT is another type of Jesus. St. Paul says, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come [Jesus].” So, Jesus is the New Adam, the Adam of the New Testament.

The fact that a New Adam exists means that God is recreating the human race after its miserable fall. We turn to St. John’s Gospel to see the evidence for this. St. John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Note the similarity between this verse and Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1 repeatedly uses the words, “there was night and there was morn, and the --- day” to denote the passage of time (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). In his creation account, St. John does something very similar. He uses the words, “the next day” successively to denote the passage of time (John 1:29, 35, 43).  In Genesis, the seventh day was a day of rest, a feast day. Likewise, in John’s gospel, there is a feast, a wedding taking place in Cana (John says this took place “on the third day,” after the first four days that had passed according to John 1:29, 35, 43).  All this is to say that in John’s gospel, there is another creation story where God is recreating the universe. However, there is a contrast between the two creation stories. In the first creation account, everything is physical, including human beings’ birth, “Eve became the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20).  In the second creation story, the birth is not a physical one, but a spiritual one: “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born again” of “SPIRIT and water” (John 3:3, 5).  In Genesis, mankind’s habitat is earth, a physical environment.  In John’s gospel, the kingdom of God is a spiritual realm: “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).  In Genesis, the first man to be created was Adam. In John’s Gospel, the first man to be “begotten” is Jesus (John 3:16).  If there is a first Adam and a first Eve in Genesis; and we have our New Adam in the NT, then where is the second Eve, the New Eve who will, along with our New Adam, Lord Jesus, usher in the new creation that is taking place in the NT?

The New Eve appears at the wedding of Cana on the seventh day in the same way the First Eve appeared on the seventh day in Genesis 2.  Note that the Blessed Virgin appears next to Jesus in wedding at Cana in a similar manner as Eve appeared next to Adam in the Garden of Eden.  There are some differences.  Eve eats from the forbidden fruit and thereby dooming mankind through her disobedience.  Mary, on the other hand, in a complete act of obedience, surrenders her will to God so that mankind can be saved: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).  Eve encourages Adam to eat of the fruit and bring death into the world; “Jesus’ mother” encourages him to perform his “first miracle,” thereby beginning his life-giving mission of salvation (John 2:3, 11). Eve encourages God’s servant, Adam to disobey God; Mary encourages “the servants” to obey God and “do as he says” (John 2:5).  Eve was standing with Adam next to the Tree of Knowledge; Mary “stood” next to Jesus under the wood of the cross, which is also called a “tree” (John 19:25; Acts 5:30). Eve cooperated with Adam to bring “death into the world” (Romans 5:12); Mary cooperated with the Lord to “give life” (John 10:10). Eve was the physical mother of all humanity, “the mother of all living”; Mary is the spiritual mother of all “her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (Revelation 12:17). Eve was called a “woman” prior to her disobedience (Genesis 2:23); Jesus calls Mary “woman” throughout the gospel of John, beginning with Christ’s mission until its end when he was hung on the cross (John 2:4; 19:26). We must pause here for a second.

This point particularly has a great deal of significance for a proper understanding of the Scriptures.  When Our Lord calls his mother “Woman,” his intention was not to disrespect or rebuke her; otherwise, he would be guilty of breaking the fourth commandment, “Thou Shall Honour your Father and Mother” (Exodus 20:12). Our Lord’s intention was to reveal to mankind that she is the New Woman, the New Eve, the “woman” who was also prophesied about in Genesis 3:15 when God said to the Serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the WOMAN, between your seed and her seed; He will crush your head and you will bruise his heal.” Also note that Eve’s name does not change from “woman” to “Eve” until she committed her first sinful act of disobedience (Genesis 3:20).  The Blessed Virgin on the other hand, manages to retain the title of “Woman” from the beginning of the gospel all the way to its end, signifying that she did not commit any act of disobedience, not even once.  Prior to her fall, while she was called “woman,” God created Eve without a sin; by keeping the title of Woman throughout the gospel, God is telling humanity that the New Eve is also created without a blemish or stain of sin.  The first woman of the “old” creation in the OT was created without original sin; likewise, the first woman of the “new creation” in the NT, Mary, is also without original sin (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The imagery of a woman alongside a man, both working together to accomplish a single mission is a recurring theme that runs throughout the Bible.  We will look further into this when I discuss Mariology in other posts.  For the time being, it is sufficient to demonstrate the similarities between Eve in the OT before falling into sin and Mary in the NT.  Any serious Biblical student must acknowledge these truths that are unequivocally revealed by the Holy Spirit in the Sacred Scriptures.  This completes the first part of the twofold scriptural proof of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.  In my next post, I will show another typology in the Bible where the Ark of the Covenant is a clear foreshadowing of the Blessed Virgin.  May Our Holy Mother, the New Eve, intercede on our behalf in front of the King to help us feel her motherly love and protection and bring us closer to Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

On Babies and Tampons

Retail sales have sunk to a new low in the United Kingdom. I imagine storeowners are rushing to put together an advertisement campaign to boost the consumers’ confidence and encourage them to spend their money.  Campaigners in the U.K. are doing just that, except their target demographics are not just any consumers.  They are targeting females with impregnated wombs. 

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK has given the green light for private abortion providers to air television advertisements and promote their services.  I would like to understand this situation a little better, as I imagine my esteemed reader would like as well.  The best way to go about analyzing this development would be through a Comparison.  Hearken back, gentle reader, to your grade 9 English lessons on Comparisons.  To compare two objects or concepts with each other means to find the similarities they share with one another. Here, the two objects we would like to compare are babies and tampons, more specifically aborted babies and dirty tampons.

Bear with me for a minute.

Now, I ask my reader.  After reading through this comparative chart, are you grossed out? Are you repelled? Are you disgusted, appalled and sickened at my veracious, candid and blunt comparison? Then you should know, that is the magnitude of the debauchery currently taking place in England re the abortion business.  This is the depravity to which life in, Europe in general and UK in particular, has been reduced. 

If you can find any more similarities between these two objects, please feel free to post them in the comments section.