Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Mary as the Second Eve  

This is an excellent survey of the teaching on Mary by early Church Fathers (A good book to read for this Marian month of May):

Mary and the Fathers of the Church by Luigi Gambero

As early as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus in the second century, the teaching on Mary as the second Eve begins to be developed. Irenaeus in Adversus haereses notes the parallels between Eve and Mary. For example, although both had husbands, both were virgins. In terms of the economy of salvation, the bishop of Lyons writes that what Eve had done to put the human race under a sentence of death, Mary undoes to bring about the hope of life.

Through Eve's disobedience, death entered the world. However, by Mary's obedience Life entered the world. Eve was visited by an angel who deceived her and led her into sin. Mary was visited by an angel who proclaimed the Good News and led her into perfect obedience to God. Then Irenaeus adds what will become a popular image for the Fathers, namely, that through her obedience Mary has undone the knot which Eve tied with her disobedience.

In the passage in St. John's Gospel (2:1-11) which records our Lord's changing water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, we can find an example from Scripture of the Eve-Mary parallel. In this passage, our Lady urges Jesus who is the new Adam to begin His mission in earnest. This encouragement by the Virgin Mary is in direct opposition to Eve's urging Adam in Genesis 3 to sin by partaking of the fruit which the Lord had made clear they should not eat.

Through this understanding, it is easier to understand Christ's response to His mother when she comments that the wine has run out. His hour which is normally a reference to His historical Passion might be understood as a reference to the liturgical commemoration of His Passion. In that liturgical sense, Jesus will provide an abundance of the best wine because it will be His blood shed for the remission of sins. In other words, the hour in which He will provide His blood in an abundance through the liturgical re-presentation of His Passion has not yet come. However, the movement to this hour is begun with His performing the miracle. Both Jesus and Mary know this, but unlike Adam and Eve, both are obedient even in the face of knowing to what their obedience will lead.

Posted by David at 1:18 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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