Monday, November 25, 2013

Mary - the Mother of EVERY Christian, Intercedes for Us in Heaven

In my last post on the Blessed Mother I shared the Catholic conviction that Mary has been empowered by the Spirit to act as mother, not just to Jesus, but to every member of His Mystical Body.  We saw how in the Book of Revelation (12:1,17) the Woman, the Mother of the Messiah, was the Mother of all believers.  We saw it in John's Gospel when Jesus looked down at Mary and John from the Cross, “Woman, there behold your son! ... Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26-27).  

Of course, Revelation's mention of "the Woman," and Jesus addressing Mary as such, takes us back to the first pages of the Bible, to the prophecy of the Woman whose seed would crush the head of the serpent, Satan (Gen 3:15).  We are taken back to Eve, the "mother of all the living" (Gen 3:20), and led to recognize Mary as the New Eve, the Mother of all those raised to life in the New Adam, her Son (Rom 5:12-21). The early Church understood this clearly. When we look at the writings they left behind, the contrast between Mary and Eve immediately comes to the fore:
Eve, a virgin and undefiled, conceived the word of the serpent, and bore disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced to her the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 155 A.D.)  
The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith. (Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, Against Heresies Book III, 180-199 A.D.) 
Eve had believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel. That which the one destroyed by believing, the other, by believing, set straight. (Tertullian, The Flesh of Jesus Christ, 210 A.D.). 
The main way Mary exercises her maternal care for us is to intercede, to pray for us and with us, to her Son.  I know this sets off alarms for my Protestant brothers and sisters - and I was right there with them a couple of decades ago - so let me take some time to explain how this belief comes to us from Scripture:

Each of us, at some point, has asked someone else for their prayers. Prayers, offered for the ones we love here on earth, are acts of love. This does not interfere with Jesus’ sole mediation (1 Timothy 2:5) between the Father and humanity in the least; we intercede as members of Jesus. If that is true for us still being formed in His image, then how much more so for our brothers and sisters in heaven? This was the belief of God’s people even under the Old Covenant. We are told of the vision granted to the Jewish freedom fighter, Judas Maccabeus (although tragically, this text is no longer found in Protestant editions of the Bible):
He cheered [his soldiers] by relating a dream, a sort of vision, which was worthy of belief. What he saw was this: Onias, [the deceased] high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his grey hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority. And Onias spoke, saying, “This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God” (2 Maccabees 15:11-14). 
It is my conviction that Scripture gives us many additional reasons to believe that those around God’s throne have our prayers “in hand.”
At once I was in the Spirit, and lo, there a throne stood in heaven with one seated on the throne!...Round the throne were twenty-four thrones and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders (Revelation 4:2,4)… each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the [earthly] saints (Rev 5:8).
So who are the twenty-four elders around the throne? “Elder” is used in the Bible only in reference to human beings. In the passage of Scripture just quoted John related his vision of heaven: members of the Body of Christ surrounding the throne of God, offering up the prayers of the earthly saints.

Since our departed brothers and sisters are even closer to the Lord, they have a perfected capacity to love us. What better way would there be for them to love us then to intercede on our behalf? The saints in heaven do have the earthly Church in mind; in the Book of Revelation John also said:
I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” Then they were… told to rest a little longer, until their brethren should be complete, who were killed as they themselves had been (Rev 6:9-11).
We find the martyrs crying out to God to bring judgment, to intervene on behalf of the Church and vindicate those who had already given their lives. God revealed to them that more brothers and sisters would be martyred before judgment came. Did you catch that? God allowed the heavenly saints to have information about the earthly saints, that more were to be killed. It is a precedent, a biblical example of those in heaven having information about us on earth.

I think it is reasonable to assume the heavenly saints are often interceding before we even ask. But isn’t that the case with Christians we know on earth as well? Surely you have asked someone, maybe your mother, to pray for you - knowing full well that you are always in her prayers. So why do you ask? Because it brings you relief, as well as calls her prayers to focus on a particular matter. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox asking their heavenly brothers and sisters to pray has a variety of benefits: it assures us of powerful intercession; it gives us the security flowing from agreement in prayer (Matt.18:20), and it fosters our love for siblings we will spend eternity with. Against such things there is no law, no Scriptural mandate to the contrary. Instead we find St. Paul teaching about the interrelation of all Christians:
I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family, in heaven and on earth derives its name (Eph 3:14, NIV). 
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit… there [should] be no discord in the body…the members [should] have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (1 Cor 12:12-13; 25-26).
Think about the image of the Body. When your hand is injured and in need of care, doesn’t it send the message to your brain via a series of neurons? When in need I want as many neurons in the Body of Christ firing as possible. Consider these two passages in light of each other:
You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect (Heb 12:22-23). 
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16; NIV). 
They don't come any more righteous than our Blessed Mother!

When some people talk about Mary and the other saints' intercession, they make it sound as if they somehow change God's mind.  "God might be saying 'no' to your prayers, but if Mary asks him, then He'll say 'yes' to her."  That is horrible theology, and not the position of the Church! No one twists God's arm.  Why does God sometimes delay in answering a prayer until we invite Mary and the saints to pray with us?  My own belief is that God leads us to these prayer partners, and responds to our combined intercession, to build bonds within His family - bonds we will live out for the rest of eternity. One of the reasons praying with Mary is so widespread is because God wants each of us to know our mother!

How can you start praying with Mary?  I can't think of a better, more Scriptural place to begin than the Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee [Luke 1:28].
Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus [Luke 1:42].
Holy Mary, Mother of God [Luke 1:42]
Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kingship in the Bible - A Contradiction?

Today's feast of Christ the King is a great time to meditate upon an apparent difficulty in Scripture - what appear to be two contradictory strands, one "positive" and the other "negative," regarding kingship in ancient Israel.  The first, the "positive" view of kingship is given in Deuteronomy and the later promise made to David:
File:Couronne depignes Crown of Thorns Notre Dame Paris.JPG
"When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, 'Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,' be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites." (Dt 17:14-15) 
“The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son."

The second, the "negative" view is found in First Samuel:
"But when [the elders of Israel] said, 'Give us a king to lead us,' this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights ...” (1 Sam 8:6-9)
What's the deal -  if the Israelites' desire for an earthly king was a rejection of God's kingship, why would He consent?  How could he then speak of David's kingdom as part of His plan to bless the world?  God doesn't change His mind or make things up as He goes along. Jesus birth into the world as the kingly son and successor of David was God's eternal plan.

And therein lies the resolution - the Incarnation resolves the apparent contradiction.  The Lord could consent to the Israelite desire for an earthly king, while ultimately remaining their only King, because at the end of David's kingly line was the God-Man, Christ Jesus!  "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" (Rm 11:33)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Getting the Bible & Church Right - ah, the Feast of Clement of Rome

I was excited when I saw whose feast the Church celebrates today, because St. Clement of Rome's Letter to the Corinthians (c.84-96 A.D.) is one of the earliest pieces of Christian literature we have outside of the New Testament. And because of that, it gives Christians today - arguing, 2000 yeas after the fact, over what Jesus and the Apostles meant by their words- a way to settle their disputes:  We can see how the early Church, the people who actually worked alongside the Apostles and their associates, understood Christ's teaching.

First, who was Clement of Rome?  He was Peter's third successor as the Bishop of Rome.  Irenaeus of Lyons, the Bishop of Gaul (modern France), wrote about him c.189 A.D., in his Against the Heresies:
"The Blessed Apostles [Peter and Paul] having founded and built up the church [of Rome], they handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus. Paul makes mention of this Linus in the Epistle to Timothy. To him succeeded Anencletus; and after him, in the third place from the Apostles, Clement was chosen for the episcopate. He had seen the Blessed Apostles and was acquainted with them. It might be said that he still heard the echoes of the preaching of the Apostles, and had their traditions before his eyes. And not only he, for there were many still remaining who had been instructed by the Apostles ... In this order, and by the teaching of the Apostles handed down in the Church, the preaching of the truth has come down to us.(Book III, 3:2-3).
Clement's own writing, his Letter to the Corinthians, was occasioned by the church in Corinth's rebellion against their presbyters. It was an extremely serious matter because, as Clement reminded them, it was a breach of the Church-order established by Christ Himself.  As the successor to Peter and Paul, the Corinthians took Clement's words to heart, as is witnessed to by the letter written 80 years later by their bishop, Dionysius (but more on that below)  Lets listen to what Clement wrote to them regarding the structure of the Christ's Church :
"The Apostles received the gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ…they went forth in the complete assurance of the word of God, preaching the good news that the Kingdom of God is coming. Through countryside and city they preached; and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers." (Letter to the Corinthians 42:1-4) 
"Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned, and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry. As for these, then, who were appointed by them, or who were afterwards appointed by other illustrious men with the consent of the whole Church…we consider it unjust that they be removed from the ministry. Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its Sacrifices." (44:1-3) 
"Shameful, beloved, extremely shameful, and unworthy of your training in Christ, is the report that on account of one or two persons the well-established and ancient Church of the Corinthians is in revolt against the presbyters." (47:6) 
"You, therefore, who laid the foundation of the rebellion, submit to the presbyters and be chastened to repentance, bending your knees in a spirit of humility." (57:1) 
"Accept our counsel and you will have nothing to regret." (58:2) 
"If anyone disobeys the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger." (59:1)
Clement used the Keys of the Kingdom, passed down to him from St. Peter, to restore unity to the Family of God. It was apparently well within his rights to do so: The Apostle John was still alive at the time and would surely have intervened if the Church in Rome had overstepped its bounds. But instead of this, history tells us that the Corinthians repented. Eighty years later Dionysius, the Bishop of Corinth, wrote to Soter, then Bishop of Rome, telling him how Clement’s letter was still read aloud during Sunday worship. That means that the Corinthians would have read it right alongside Scripture! Clement’s words carried a lot of force in the minds of the early Christians.

Why not celebrate today's feast by reading Clement's Letter to the Corinthians?  You can start right now with this electronic copy; but let me also recommend a wonderful new translation and commentary from the Coming Home Network's Dr. Kenneth Howell.  And here is an insightful video where Dr. Howell discusses Clement with Marcus Grodi:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mary - Jesus' Most Faithful (and Celebrated) Disciple

Our consideration of Mary’s discipleship begins with her reaction to Gabriel’s message: “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). This is what people refer to as Mary’s fiat (Latin for “let it be”). She who received all she was from God put herself completely in His hands; she was living the life of the Spirit, the Life of her Son.

This was what the Holy Spirit moved Elizabeth to recognize during Mary’s visit to her: “when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!…blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:41-42,45). Mary’s faith, her wholehearted and unequaled cooperation with the promptings of the Spirit, is the reason for her place of honor among the People of God. This is brought out later in Luke’s Gospel when a woman cried, “Blessed is the womb that bore you!” 

“Rather, “ Jesus corrected, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it ” (Luke 11:27-28). He was not denying Mary’s blessedness (the Spirit had already testified to it through Elizabeth); but pointing out that Mary’s motherhood was more than a matter of flesh and blood – it was the result of her whole-hearted “yes” when God called. 

This brings us to a brief, but important, aside. Why do Catholic and Orthodox Christians refer to Mary as Theotokos, Mother of God? It has nothing to do with a belief that Mary preceded God in time– that is abso-lute nonsense! Look at Elizabeth’s words again, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43). The six other occurrences of “Lord” in Luke’s first chapter refer to God, so for a Christian reader, “mother of my Lord” and “mother of my God” could easily be viewed as synonymous. “Mother of God” became the favored version in the course of history, not because of what it said about Mary, but about Jesus. 

When heresies arose in the third and fourth centuries questioning Jesus’ divine status, confessing Mary as Mother of God was the way orthodox Christianity reaffirmed its belief in His full humanity and divinity. God the Son truly became a man in Mary’s womb. It was God the Son, who as a human being, nursed at her breasts, grew up in her home, and loved and obeyed her as mother. It was God the Son, as a little boy, who was helped by her to take His first steps and say His first words. To deny Mary the title Mother of God would be to deny the shocking reality of the incarnation, that the Word became flesh – it is to deny that God the Son died to save us from sin. If Mary was not the Mother of God the Son, then the Christian hope of salvation is null and void!

Getting back to our discussion of Mary’s discipleship though, we recognize her as a person of profound prayer. Scripture records a beautiful, prophetic hymn of praise that the Spirit put in her mouth:
My soul magnifies the Lord,and my spirit rejoices in God mySavior,for he has regarded the low estate ofhis handmaiden.For behold, henceforth all genera-tions will call me blessed (Luke 1:46-49).
Mary was a student of God’s actions, a student of her Son. We are told that she “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, 51).

There were surprises along the way, things she did not understand. Imagine her feelings when the prophet Simeon told her, “[Your] child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). What will hap-pen to my Son? How? When? Where? What awaits me? Mary knew what it meant to walk in the darkness of faith. When Jesus stayed behind in the Temple at the age of twelve, she and Joseph spent three days searching for him. When she found him and said, “I’ve been searching for you in sor-row,” His only response was, “Why did you search for me? Did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house?” The pain that had to cause! Scripture is blunt, “[She] did not understand” (Luke 2:48-50).

We see her again in the gospels some eighteen years later, when she, Jesus, and His other disciples attended a wedding in Cana. It is here that we see Mary acting as an intercessor on behalf of others. The feast must have went on for some time when the wine ran out. What would the bride and groom serve their guests? (Hospitality was at the top of the virtue list in the ancient world.) John tells us that Jesus’ Mother became aware of the bride and groom’s predicament. Observe what she did:
…the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her,“O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:3-5).
I am sure you remember the rest of the story. Jesus told the servants to fill six huge jars with water and take a sample to the master of the banquet. When the head waiter tasted it, it was the finest wine. John concludes the story by writing, “This, the first of His miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him” (John 2:11, NIV).

Mary did not take “no” for an answer; and Jesus, in His love for her and in response to her faith, did not turn her down. He performed His first miracle because of her intercession! I can’t help but think that He had her in mind when he told the parable of the persistent widow, telling us that we should be unceasing in our intercession (Luke 18:1-5). The gospels may be limited in the number of verses devoted to Mary, but what they tell us is astounding. Her words to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5), compresses the whole of Christian morality and disciple-ship into one sentence!

The next time we encounter Mary is at the foot of the cross. Simeon’s prophecy has been fulfilled; watching her tortured Son hang there, her soul was pierced by a sword, “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). She did not rail at the Father, did not lash out at the soldiers overseeing the execution or the mockers passing by. She silently entrusted herself, once again, to the Father, in the Spirit. And then her Son asked something more of her:  
When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, there behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home (John 19:26-27).
When we look at the accounts of Jesus’ death we see that everything He did at the cross was tied up with the new life He was purchasing for us – everything, including this.

We see Mary exercising this maternal care as she prayed with the disciples for the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Scripture is silent on how she continued to live it out; but we can be sure she did, especially in her relationship with John the Apostle, the beloved disciple.

Upon her entrance into glory, the full sharing of Jesus’ resurrection she experienced at her assumption, her maternal care could extend directly to every beloved disciple. She could care, with a mother’s heart, for every soul that had been fused to her Son’s. Look again at what John told us in the Book of Revelation:
And a great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars …the dragon was angry with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus (Revelation 12:1,17).
Mary has been empowered by the Spirit to act as mother, not just to Jesus, but to every person united to Him.  The chief way she shows her love is to intercede for us, just as she did for the couple at Cana. And here’s the thing - as each Christian reaches the full life of the Trinity in heaven, they too enter into intercession for their brothers and sisters still on earth.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Woman is the Ark

"Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake and heavy hail. And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery." (Rev. 11:19 - 12:2)

I do not believe it to be coincidental that John's vision moved directly from the Ark to the Woman.  Both are images of the Virgin Mary.

Now the Ark was the holiest object under the Old Covenant.  It was the golden chest that contained the Tablets of the Ten Commandments, the staff of Aaron (the first high priest), and sample of the "heavenly bread," manna, the Israelites ate in the desert.  It was God's earthly throne; the Lord was said to sit enthroned upon the cherubim atop the Ark.  When Israel's priests carried the Ark into the Jordan River it parted, just as the waters of the Red Sea had, allowing the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. After it was carried in procession for seven days around the city of Jericho, the city's walls collapsed.  

In the New Testament, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he told her,"the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God (Lk 1:35).  "Overshadow" - it was the same term used to describe God's coming to dwell in the Tabernacle and Temple when the Ark was placed in their Holy of Holies.

It's fascinating to see how Luke developed this insight in his telling of Mary's visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth.  Allow me to set it next to the Old Testament's account of David bringing the Ark of the Covenant to his newly won capital, Jerusalem.

The Ark was a type, a prophetic symbol, of the Virgin Mary.  The original Ark contained the Ten Commandments, high priest's staff, and manna; but Mary's womb contained Jesus - the Word of the Father, our great High Priest, and the true "Bread of Life."  Mary's lap was the only throne our Lord knew during His earthly life!  The holiness of the Ark, the way it was completely set apart for the service of God (note above how Uzzah died simply from touching it), prophesied the holiness of Our Lady.

Recall how the angel Gabriel began his message to Mary, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!...Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:28,30). “Full of grace,” or “O favored one,” in some versions of the Bible, is a translation of the Greek term “Kechari-tomene.” It refers to an absolute plentitude of grace, Mary “‛has been’ and ‘is now’ filled with divine life.”  There was never a moment of separation between she and God. This belief is what Catholics mean when they speak of her “immaculate conception.”

Mary, like all of us, had to be saved from sin.  She herself said, “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). She was saved from sin – only the manner differs. 

Jesus' offering to the Father cuts forwards and backward in time; He is the "lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (1 Pet 1:19-20). His sacrifice is the source of salvation for people from the beginning of history all the way through its end (Heb 9:28; Rev 13:8; 1 Pet 3:19-20). You and I received God's grace into our souls after we had already contracted original sin; but in Mary's case, the fruits of Jesus’ victory were applied at conception, saving her from ever contracting original sin. Now, if John the Baptist could respond to the Holy Spirit while in his mother’s womb (see Lk 1:41,44 above), then how can we object to Mary receiving the Spirit but a few months earlier, at conception?  Mary had no way to earn this gift; it was granted at the instant she came into being. Nor was it a requirement to bear the sinless Jesus. It was certainly fitting, but not a requirement.  It was God’s sovereign choice, His free gift.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Our Lady in the Book of Revelation

Woman of Revelation 12           Our Lady of Guadalupe
"Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake and heavy hail. And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven; behold a great red dragon…the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne ... Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. " (Revelation 11:19-12:5)
Who is the Woman?  She is Mary.  Concretely, she is Mary.
Is the Woman a symbol for Israel, the nation that brought forth the Messiah?  Yes, Israel is referred to as Daughter Zion in the O.T.
Is the Woman a symbol of the Church, the Bride of Christ who continues to give birth to Him in the world?  Yes.
But this Woman is concretely and historically Mary.  Mary was the personification of Daughter Zion, the Woman who summed up Israel’s mission in giving birth to the Messiah.  And Mary is the Church personified as well – the disciple who put all of her trust in God’s word; who said “yes,” to every sacrifice God asked of her; who cooperated with His mysterious plan for bringing Jesus and redemption to the world!   
And this image in Revelation 12, at the end of the Bible, mirrors an episode at the beginning of the Bible.  The Woman who brings the Messiah into the world in Revelation is the same woman prophesied in the Book of Genesis.  In the story of Adam, Eve, and the serpent, immediately after humanity’s fall, God turned to the serpent and announced, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers.  He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen3:15).
This verse is called the protoevangelium, the "first Gospel."  As soon as humanity fell into sin, God announced how He would redeem us; and it involves the Woman and her seed – Mary, and Jesus.  And the language used is very mysterious.  “The seed" of the Woman.  Seed, throughout Scripture, is the male contribution in the procreative process.  What does God mean “the seed of the Woman”?  In the New Testament we discover that it the virgin birth.  And who is this child that will be wounded (His heel struck), yet be powerful enough to crush the serpent’s head? What man can crush the head of Satan, a fallen angel?  A God-Man.

Monday, November 18, 2013

"Discovering Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Bible" - LIVE PRESENTATION

What was it about this image that caused over 
9 million Aztecs to convert to Christianity?
Come and find out for yourself Thursday, December 12th, 7 p.m., at 
St. Boniface's Theology on Tap 
Enjoy a brew as Shane Kapler shares:
  • How Our Lady of Guadalupe is tied to the Book of Revelation
  • How not only Jesus, but His Mother Mary, was prophesied in the Old Testament
  • Mary's relationship to the Ark of the Covenant (as in "Indiana Jones and Raiders of the ...")
  • Where the Bible teaches that Mary was free of all sin, is our Mother as well as Jesus', and intercedes for us in Heaven
  • The story of Mary's appearance in Mexico, in 1531
  • The significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe for North America today
St. Boniface Catholic Church
110 North Buchanan St.
Edwardsville, IL 62025