Monday, May 31, 2004
Mary, the Ark of the Covenant  

In their commentary on St. Luke's Gospel, Curtis Mitch and Scott Hahn bring out the Scriptural parallels that give evidence to Mary as the Ark of the Covenant. St. Luke's account of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth (1:29-56) contains several elements which point back to an Old Testament story about the Ark of the Covenant which the Lord had commissioned Moses to have built.

In 2 Samuel 6, the story is recounted of King David's bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem after his kingdom had been established. In 2 Samuel 2:6, in order to retrieve the Ark "David arose and went" into the same Judean area where centuries later Mary "arose and went" (Luke 1:39). Before the Ark, David says, "How can the Ark of the Lord come to me?" (2 Samuel 6:9) Just as David remarks upon his unworthiness before the Ark, Elizabeth comments, "And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43) The other response before the Ark is joy which is demonstrated by John the Baptist's leaping in Elizabeth's womb (Luke 1:41). In 2 Samuel 6:16, David dances before the Ark of the Lord. In another parallel, in David's effort to bring the Ark of the Lord to Jerusalem, the Ark had to remain in the house of Obed-Edom for three months (2 Samuel 2:11). Similarly, Mary remains with Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:56).

In addition, St. Luke uses a specific word to convey the message that Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant. In 1:42, Elizabeth's exclaiming in response to the arrival of Mary and Jesus is based on verb that is rarely used in the Bible. In fact, this is the only occurrence of it in the New Testament. In the Greek Old Testament, the verb is only used five times. And each use of the word is in an account about the Ark of the Covenant. In particular, the word is used to describe the singing of the Levitical singers and musicians as they glorify God when the Ark is in procession to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15:28, 16:4-5) and when Solomon has the Ark established in the Temple (2 Chronicles 5:13).

By using this rarely used word, St. Luke connects the Old Testamant stories with a Levite of the New Testament--Elizabeth. She too gives glory to God by singing praises before the Ark of the Covenant who is Mary. Through the use of allusions to the Old Testament and the use of a specific word, St. Luke draws our attention to the fulfillment of the Old Testament in Mary. The Ark of the Covenant which was God's presence with Israel is now found in Mary who carries God Incarnate in her womb. As the Ark of the Covenant, she brings God's presence to the world. In the visitation, we find her first sharing of her son with Israel represented by Elizabeth the Levite.

Posted by David at 9:09 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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