Episode 5 – The Gospel of Luke – Chapter 2 Part 1
Jesus is Born
The lecture this week begins with a look at Papal Infallibility and how it relates to Mary. Beginning with our first Pope, Peter, there has been an unbroken succession of apostolic authority. A dogma is declared infallible only when three criteria are met: the pronouncement must be made by the lawful successor of Peter; the subject matter must be in the area of faith and morals; the pope must speak ex cathedra, that is from the office and seat of Peter. Papal infallibility has been invoked for only two dogmas of the Church: the immaculate conception of Mary (Pius IX in 1854) and the bodily assumption of Mary (Pius XII in 1950).
Picking up where we left off last week, we return to Luke 1 and the story of the Annunciation to Mary. When the angel declares to Mary that she will conceive and bear a son, she wonders how this could be since she had no relations with a man. John Paull II explains her response by saying that Mary had the intention of forever being a virgin. The angel replies by saying that Mary will be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. The Greek for overshadow is “episkiasei.” This word is used only one other time in the New Testament in Matthew 17, when at the Transfiguration the when Jesus and the apostles were Moses and Elijah were overshadowed by a cloud from which the voice of God could be heard. “Episkiasei” implies the divine true presence of God, and in the Old Testament, this word is only used in reference to the tent of the meeting, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Tabernacle, where the true presence of God was kept. The Ark of the Covenant was powerful and could not be touched without dire consequences. Just as the old Ark of the Covenant could not be touched, neither could the new Ark of the Covenant, Mary. Mary was perpetually a virgin. Like the Ark of the Covenant, Mary housed the true presence of God in her Womb.
We then turn our attention to the visitation of Mary to her elderly cousin Elizabeth, who is miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist. Upon seeing Mary, Elizabeth “cries out” (anaphōneō in the Greek): “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Anaphōneō, “to cry out” with shouts of joy, is only used in the Old Testament when the Ark of the Covenant is present. Furthermore, only two women other than Mary in Scripture are called “blessed.” The book of Judges tells the story of Jael, who kills the enemy Canaanite General Sisera by driving a tent peg into his head. In celebration of the defeat of Israel’s enemy, Deborah the judge declares: “Most blessed of women be Jael!” (Judges 5:24). In the book of Judith, another enemy of Israel falls at the hand of a blessed woman. Judith cuts off the head of the Assyrian General Holofernes. Upon seeing the severed head of Holofernes, King Uzziah proclaims: “O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth!” (Judith 13:18). Both of these blessed women, Jael and Judith, help preserve the line of Messiah by crushing the head of the enemies of Israel. Likewise, the Blessed Virgin Mary bears the Messiah himself, Jesus, who crushes the head of Satan as predicted in Genesis 3:15.
There are striking similarities between the Old Ark of the Covenant and Mary, the new Ark of the Covenant. The Old Ark contained the stone tablets of the law (the word of God), manna (the bread of God), and Aaron’s rod (the authority of God’s High Priest). These contents prefigure Mary, the New Ark, whose womb contains Jesus, who IS the word of life, who IS the bread of life, who IS the authority of God on earth, the final High Priest of Israel. As mentioned, the contents of the ark are sacred and not to be touched. Recall how Uzzah was struck dead when he touched the side of the Ark to steady it (2 Sam 6) or when the Lord slew 70 men who looked into the Ark of the Covenant (1 Sam 6).
The lecture continues with the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. We remember from 2 Maccabees 2 that the true presence of God has been absent from the temple ever since Jeremiah sealed the Ark of the Covenant in a cave on the mountain of Moses. As Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus for the purification ceremony, the true presence of God has finally returned to the temple, an event long anticipated and recognized by Simeon and the prophetess Anna. The Holy Family returns to Nazareth for the “hidden” years of Jesus as he grows in strength and wisdom with the favor of God upon him. Luke 2 concludes with 12-year-old Jesus teaching in the temple: the true presence of God has returned to the temple yet again, “Why are you looking for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s House?” With the Eucharist present in every tabernacle of every Catholic Church, we have access to the true presence of God at all times. Copyright 2019 @ Seeking Truth
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Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.
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