Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ark of the Covenant

I was recently listening to Open Line with Fr. Mitch Pacwa and he took a call from an Evangelical Christian about why Catholics refer to Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin as the Ark of the New Covenant. Sparing you all the details about why (you can read that here), I wanted to note something very interesting he said. You can either take it as coincidence, or like most of us Catholics do, as a theological significance.

In the Septuagint, the word when David "leaps for joy" as the Ark of the Covenant returns to Jerusalem is the same word as the Gospel writers chose to use for John the Baptist "leaping" in his mother's womb when Mary and the unborn Jesus come during the Visitation.

I thought that was pretty neat.


mel said...

It's very neat.
It's a description for Mary (Ark) that I started realizing a few years ago. It makes a lot of sense. Prots get caught up in the English semantics of "brother," and that gets (us) off track of who Mary really is.

The Catholic Journeyman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Joseph the Worker said...

Interesting thoughts from both of you. Thanks for commenting.

mel said...

I'm seeing the connection between the Ark of the (Old) Covenant and how nobody could touch it without consequences -- and how nobody could've "touched" the New Covenant's Ark either. No other explanation made sense for the ever virgin description of Mary -- until I heard this.

~Joseph the Worker said...

Yeah when I became Catholic I never had a problem accepting that Mary was the Ever-Virgin, but I did ask a Deacon why it mattered so much - in other words born without original sin makes a lot of sense to me but whether or not she remained a virgin did not. He used the Ark of the Covenant comparison to allow me to understand.

Greg said...


Its been awhile since I checked in with you. I like your posts a lot and will have to get back to checking in more frequently.

Today's meditation (6/24/09) from the Word Among Us perfectly captures what you are saying in this post! I copied and pasted it below. In addition to Mary being the "New Ark," I also like the analogy the early Church Fathers make as Mary being the "New Eve."


The Birth of St. John the Baptist

The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. (Isaiah 49:1)

What do you think is the most amazing thing about John the Baptist? His uncompromising zeal for the Lord? His clear, passionate preaching? Maybe his gift of self-denial? Or the humility he displayed despite his fame.

How about this instead: Even as a fetus, John leapt for joy in the presence of the Virgin Mary because she was carrying the Son of God. Imagine: John was still an unborn baby, barely aware of life outside of the womb, and yet the muffled, quiet sound of Mary’s greeting filled him with the Holy Spirit and caused such a dramatic reaction.

This leap may remind us of Isaac’s wife, Rebecca, who also felt an unusual amount of activity from the twins in her womb. Rebecca asked the Lord why this was happening, and he told her that something spiritual and prophetic was going on inside of her (Genesis 25:20-23). King David also leaped before the Ark of the Covenant. He loved God so much he could not contain himself (2 Samuel 6:14-15). The prophet Isaiah wrote that in the age to come, when the glory of the Lord is made manifest, the lame will leap for joy (Isaiah 35:4-6).

John’s leaping shows us that there is a part of us that can recognize God, regardless of what we do or who we are. It’s encoded into the way he made us. This ability to recognize the Lord is not limited to unborn babies or to great saints like John. It’s in all of us, and it’s something that the Holy Spirit wants to bring to life so that we too can recognize Jesus more deeply—and rejoice in his presence.

So on this great feast day, let’s honor John the Baptist for all that he did for Jesus and for us. As the bridge between the Old and New Testaments, John truly is one of the greatest saints of the church. But let’s never forget that the relationship between him and Jesus is something each one of us can experience. We can all leap for joy as we prepare this world for the coming of Christ the King!

“Lord, I want to see you. Come show yourself to me, and fill my heart with joy.”

Psalm 139:1-3,13-15; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66,80