Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mary as the New Eve

The early Christians had a lively devotion to the Blessed Virgin.  We find evidence of this in their surviving literature and artwork and, of course, in the New Testament, which was their foundational document.  Their devotion was based on scripture, and presented in the context of creation, fall, incarnation, and redemption. For Mary’s role makes no sense apart from its context in salvation history; yet it is not incidental to God’s plan.  God chose to make his redemptive act inconceivable without her.
               Mary was in His plan from the very beginning, chosen and foretold from the moment God created man and woman.  In fact, the early Christians understood Mary and Jesus to be a reprise of God’s first creation.  Saint Paul spoke of Adam as a type of Jesus (Romans 5:14) and of Jesus as the new Adam, or the “last Adam” (I Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49).
               The early Christians considered the beginning of Genesis-with its story of creation and fall and its promise of redemption-to be so Christological (reflective of Christ) in its implications that they called it the Protoevangelium, or First Gospel.  For examples, like Adam, Jesus was tested in a garden-the garden of Gethsemane.  Like Adam, Jesus was led to a “tree,” where He was stripped naked.  Like Adam, He fell into the deep sleep of death, so that from His side would come the New Eve, His bride the Church.
               If Jesus is the “new Adam” then Mary is the “New Eve,” who reverses the evil done by Eve in Genesis.  Like Eve, “the mother of all the living,” Mary is mother to all who have new life in baptism.  It was Eve who led the old Adam to his first evil act in the garden.  It was Mary who led the New Adam to His first glorious work (the wedding feast at Cana).  In Revelation, Eve faces the evil in the garden and gives in to the “ancient serpent,” which is cursed by God and given the promise that there would be “enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.”  Mary, “a woman clothed with the sun” confronts “the ancient serpent who is called the devil.”  She gives birth to a “male child” who would “rule all the nations.”  In Revelation the ancient serpent attempts to attack the “New Eve” and kill her child, but unlike in the case of the first Eve, he fails.  She, Mary, prevails over evil and gives birth to salvation.        (Gathered from Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn)                                                kvs

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