My dear Covenant Partners and GEM Family
The Father paved the way for His Son’s coming into this world by making Mary “full of grace,” giving her the full and unmerited benefits of Jesus’ redemption of humanity through His death and resurrection. Mary was the Immaculate One from her conception, without stain of sin, chosen and prepared by the Father to be the mother of the Son of God. Throughout her life, the Holy Spirit would overshadow Mary as her Advocate.
At the Annunciation, Mary is faced with several seeming contradictions in the Angel’s message. How can the divine Son of God become human flesh? How can a betrothed virgin, having the obligations of a wife, conceive out of wedlock? These seeming contradictions are resolved by the Angel’s assurance that “the holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Mary’s child will be the Son of the Most-High (Luke 1: 32), because Jesus will be conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary is described by the Angel as the Ark of the New Covenant. Luke uses the Greek word episkiasei to denote the power of the most-high overshadowing Mary. This same word was used in Exodus 40: 34 and 1Kings 8: 10, when the power of the Most-High descended upon the Ark of the Covenant at the temple’s dedication. In proclaiming herself as the handmaid of the Lord, Mary submitted wholeheartedly to the advocacy of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth recognizes Jesus in Mary’s womb and greets her as “blessed among women.” Mary is the Ark of the Covenant as the Angel described her.
In all her challenges, Mary was obedient to the Holy Spirit. Her constant state of consolation was built on her total submission to the will of God. Led by the Holy Spirit, Simeon prophesies that Jesus will be the Savior of Israel and of the whole world. Also, that “this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel.” Within this tension of fall and rise, Jesus would be a sign of contradiction, and Mary would share in that contradiction: “and you yourself a sword will pierce.” Soon after the Magi’s visit, the Holy Family flees into Egypt because of Herod’s massacre of the innocents. And twelve years later, unknown to his parents, Jesus stayed behind in the Temple. Upon questioning Jesus, His parents were astonished by His answer: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Mary pondered God’s ways rather than questioned them. At the Wedding Feast at Cana, the wine ran short. Mary knew that her son could avert this impending debacle. Jesus set aside His own start date for ministry and did the right thing for this couple. He discerned His Father’s will as being revealed through the express wish of His mother.
In His final hour, Jesus asked Mary to be the mother of His covenant family, symbolized by the beloved disciple. In handing His mother to the safe-keeping of John, Jesus was asking His covenant family to always accord her the same special honor and reverence that He had for her. Mary has continued her role as mother to Jesus now identified with His covenant family. In the Risen Lord, Mary saw that her life as God’s handmaid made perfect sense in God’s Plan of Salvation. In the Assumption, the Church states that Mary is the Ark of the new and everlasting Covenant in Jesus, free from mortal corruption. Truly, Mary is the greatest disciple from among us, always the handmaid of the Holy Spirit. God bless you! You are in our daily prayers!