In an ecumenical conference on Mary, Ralph Russell draws attention to the witness to Mary in Scripture as a whole:. Scripture must be seen as a whole. The Holy Spirit who inspired it means it to be seen in entirety. St Paul , Eve with Mary. This is the way the earliest fathers saw Scripture and if we look through their eyes we shall not be tempted to think that the Bible has little to say about Mary's place in the work of her divine Son, the one redeemer. Another way of approach is to ask what is the central event to which all salvation history builds up? Paul answers that: 'When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman' Gal What more has Scripture to tell us about this?
The Old Testament prophets, struggling, against the spirit of proud self-sufficiency, to shift attention from man to God, had spoken of the anawim, the humble and lowly people, who 'leant upon the Lord, the holy one of Israel, in truth' Is. They were not necessarily poor as a class, for David was one, but they usually were. They were conscious of their need for God, ready to wait and serve, with the trusting love of a child for their saviour.
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This is the meaning of the 'poor' in the Isaian passage which Jesus applies to himself: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor' Luke ; Is ; and the first of the Beatitudes is 'Blessed are the poor in spirit' Matt. Luke The flower of the poor and humble of the Lord is the 'handmaid of the Lord, who said 'let it be to me according to your word'. From other Old Testament themes, provided they are read with traditional Jewish and Christian interpretations, there emerges the figure of the woman, mother of the redeemer.
There is Matthew's interpretation of Isaiah: 'All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:. There is Genesis , the enmity between the woman and the serpent, her seed and his seed, of which more later. There is the prophetic figure of the Daughter of Sion. This takes us to St. Luke and the Annunciation. The angel says to Mary: 'Hail full of grace, or10 favoured one' , the Lord is with you,. And then 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have favour or 'grace' with God.
And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus Yahweh-Saviour Luke The Lord is in your midst Do not fear, O Sion, the Lord your God is in your midst your womb , a warrior who gives victory'.
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So in Luke 'hail' means rejoice, with messianic joy, and Mary, 'favoured one' or 'full of grace' is seen as the Daughter of Sion, who realizes the hopes and longings of Israel's history, and in a more wonderful way the Lord will be in her midst. The angel goes on, in the words of the prophecy of Nathan, to tell her that her Son will be the Messiah, and when Mary asks 'How shall this be, because I have not husband?
Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, Son of God' Luke Exodus Thus Mary, like the Ark, becomes God's resting place on earth. Mary's humble answer, "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" is an unhesitating acceptance of her place in God's redemptive plan. This is what the second century fathers saw, together with its consequences for salvation: "The knot of Eve's disobedience, says Irenaeus, 'was untied by Mary's obedience, and in her obedience Mary became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race' Adv.
From among mankind disgraced by sin, God untangles a line of faith and holiness at the end of which his Son will be able to be born into the human race without the contamination of sin. The last stage of this progress is found in the privileged circle of the "poor of Israel.
The Immaculate Conception: Mother of God, Mother of Men
God's plan for the world works toward accomplishment according to the slow cadence of human duration, slowed down the more by the inertia of sin. God does not bring perfection to be all at once, but gradually. At each stage in the development of an embryo the imperfect forms of the organs on their way to full formation can be detected. There is no more delicate task than to appreciate these developmental relationships.
In the final analysis, only Scripture and Tradition can authentically discern typological equivalents. In what concerns Mary, the types are found principally in three lines:. First there are the women of the Old Testament, notably those who were favored with miraculous births, those who were ancestors of the Messiah, those who contributed to the triumph and salvation of Israel.
By taking up in connection with Mary the words that concerned Sarah, "Nothing is impossible with God," Gen and Lk. But Luke compares Mary especially to Israel in its ensemble. He identifies her with the Daughter of Zion according to Zeph. Finally, the Daughter of Zion was the place where Yahweh rested. In this comparison he opened the way to a typology involving sacred objects Mary was prefigured not only by realities corresponding to her in nature or function, but also by words that announced her in advance Two series of texts merit attention:.
The Mariology of the Old Testament has all the essential characteristics of a Mariology at its "roots". In that Mariology are contained in fact the "roots" of that unique, precious plant that is Mary most holy. From those "roots" has sprung, in the New Testament, the one "full of grace" Lk , the Mother of God and of the new humanity. In these mariological texts of the Old Testament are discovered the "roots" of the mystery of Mary, predestined "in one and the same decree" Ineffabilis Deus to be the "woman". Mother of the New Adam, with whom she is united in the same "enmity" for the serpent whose head is to be crushed Gen She is the "woman in travail" bearing God made man, the Savior of the "remnant of Israel", of the People of God Mic The two mysteries of the Incarnation and of the redemption, foreshadowed in these prophetic oracles, are intimately linked to the mysteries of the Immaculate Conception Gen , the divine and virginal maternity Is , and the co-redemption Gen attributed to the "woman in travail" of Bethlehem Mic Together with these three fundamental Mariological texts, we also find in the Old Testament an abundance of minor texts that converge to give to those "roots" a certain consistency in prefiguring and symbolizing the extraordinary personality of Mary.
Thus, we discover the "roots" of Mary in the "daughter of Zion" Mic , in "the poor of Yahweh" Ps 9 , in "the strong woman" Sir who works for the regeneration and salvation of the people. We can read of the virtues and sanctity of Mary in the various and richly allusive biblical symbols, such as the burning bush, the fleece of Gideon, the holy ark, the rainbow, Jacob's ladder, and in many others We find, then, the Mariology of the New Testament already "sketched" in that of the Old. The figure and mission of Mary are already limned in the prophecies, in the figures, and in the symbols of the Old Testament.
The prophecies foretell and describe her personality, outlining its primary characteristics: Mary's freedom from original sin because of her enmity with the serpent, her divine maternity as the Mother of "God with us", her virginal maternity as the virgin "in travail", the universal co-redemption because if her victory over the serpent whose head is crushed In the New Testament, the entire Mariological content of the Old Testament is found to be fulfilled in the reality of the person and life of Mary, as the "woman", as the "virgin", as the 'mother" of the Emmanuel, as the exalted "Daughter of Zion", as endowed with those sublime gifts and virtues of more admirable women of the Old Covenant, and by the more suggestive, poetic symbols employed by the sacred writers.
The great St. Augustine, therefore, was right when he wrote that "in the Old Testament is hidden the New, and in the New the Old becomes clear.
Mariology has developed from an admirable Old Testament "sketch" to that still more admirable portrait painted in the New. Andrew of Crete once wrote that our Lady is "the seal of the Old and of the New Testament; she is clearly the fulfillment of every prophecy.
In the era of the Old Covenant Mary is invited to be the mother of the Messiah because she has "won favor with God. The most famous Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah are Genesis , Isaiah and Micah In all three prophecies the Mother of the Messiah plays a prominent part. The Genesis prophecy will be considered in a section below. Here we will study the prophecies in Isaiah and Micah. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
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And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. And this man shall be the peace", Micah :. Concerning the prophecy in Isaiah which was made by the Prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz urging him to trust God rather than to rely on the Assyrians, Stefano Manelli points out, "Biblical- theological exegesis correctly insists on one literal, messianic, and Marian interpretation of this well-known prophecy: the Emmanuel of whom the prophet speaks is exclusively the future Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the childbearing virgin is exclusively Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus One must consider the well-nigh unanimous agreement with this interpretation on the part of the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers, both in the East and in the West, from St.
Justin on. So, too, the uninterrupted teaching of the Magisterium of the Church, the witness of the liturgy and of sacred art as early as that of the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome have favored this interpretation. Yet modern, rationalistic exegetes cannot avoid facing the fact that if there are any prophecies of the Old Testament expressly cited in the new as fully verified, one is this precise passage from Isaiah, cited verbatim by St. Matthew and clearly referred to by St. The prophecy is significant also for understanding Mary: "One of the fundamental This is the object of the Church's belief in the perpetual, virginal integrity of Mary, before, during and after childbirth.
With the virginal maternity is foreshadowed the royal and divine maternity, given that the Emmanuel is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that He is a royal descendant of David because, being born of Mary, He is also of David's lineage. Still another detail, particularly significant, is this: the prophet Isaiah states that the Mother of the Messiah will herself name her son, the fruit of her virginal womb 'She shall call his name Emmanuel' [Is ] , even though this was contrary to traditional usage, whereby the father named the child.
Luke underscores this same detail in recounting how the angel informed Mary she was to name the child she bore: 'You shall call his name Jesus' Lk The correspondence between prophecy and fulfillment on this point is perfect. Finally, the relation between the prophecy of Isaiah and that of Genesis is not to be overlooked. Mattioli writes: 'The reference of the Isaian text to the Protoevangelium Gen seems clearly evident.
The mother and son, the Almah and the Immanuel, announced by Isaiah, appear neither more nor less than further delienations of the 'woman', and of the 'seed', the Issah and the Zera, promised in Genesis. Manelli addresses one possible objection that could arise: "How can Ahaz verify the 'sign' the prophet offers, if the sign, will come to pass only eight centuries later? The difficulty can be resolved in this way. Isaiah in prophesying does not address himself to Ahaz, but to the 'house of David, , because the prophecy was intended to serve a far broader and weightier end, namely, that the Lord would keep his promise to preserve the line of David, and to make David's throne forever' stable through the Immanuel.
For she saw it being fulfilled in herself. It is true the Targum as we now have it did not mark this passage as messianic.
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But we know why, thanks to some splendidly honest modern Jewish scholars: Jacob Neusner Messiah in Context, pp. Neusner tells us p. But they gave themselves away, for the Targums do mark Isaiah as messianic, and everyone admits that the child in and is the same child, for both passages belong to what is commonly called the book of Emmanuel. This Messiah-liberator, the prophet foretells, will be born in the tiny town of Bethlehem in the land of Ephrathah, not the Bethlehem of Galilee. Moreover in the prophecy it is said that the Messiah's origins are "from of old, from ancient days".
The expression from ancient days can also mean everlasting days and thus would expressly indicate eternity, that is, the divine origin of the Messiah rather than merely His long descent from David. The prophet Micah, therefore, would appear to have foretold both the earthly and heavenly places of birth, both the human and divine origins of the Messiah Meriting particular interest is the fact that Micah, rather than directly foretelling the Messiah, foretells His Mother instead, or more precisely, "a Queen-mother whom God raises up from his people to beget a new king, at a specific place and time and so in reality.
Furthermore, in making this prediction, the prophet adopts a phraseology so exact that its meaning must have been perfectly obvious to this listeners: the woman in travail shall bring forth. This brings one to the well-founded supposition that the people were already well acquainted with the prophecy of Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son For the prophet Micah, the concise expression, "the woman in travail shall bring forth", was sufficient to make himself understood by everyone Finally, in the light of the prophecy already fulfilled, so in this prophecy as in that of Genesis and in that of Isaiah , the figure of the mother is presented alone with her son.
No earthly father of the Messiah-Savior is mentioned in any of the three great Old Testament prophecies. The mother appears always as virgin mother. The "virginity" of the mother is the ever-present, luminous backdrop for the event of the Annunciation and that of the birth of the Messiah.
This virginity is an evident sign that the Messiah is truly a new creation, the new humanity, the beginning of the salvific era: the redemption. In addition to prophecies, many of the individuals and events in the Old Testament pre-figure New Testament individuals and events. Just as the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, for instance, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. The twelve tribes of Israel pre-figure the coming of the 12 Apostles.
Similarly, many of the heroines of the Old Testament pre-figured Mary and at times the parallels are startling. Although sterile she bears Isaac in her old age through a miracle of God.