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.

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