Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth, Ark Imagery and the Fathers


Mary as the Ark of the Covenant in Patristic Sources

First, let me establish the assertion I made above, namely, that patristic writers linked Mary with the ark. A few citations will do. Note that this is by no means an exhaustive survey.

Hippolytus (c. a.d. 170–c. a.d. 236): “At that time, the Savior coming from the Virgin, the Ark, brought forth His own body into the world from that Ark, which was gilded with pure gold within by the Word, and without by the Holy Ghost; so that the truth was shown forth, and the Ark was manifested….And the Savior came into the world bearing the incorruptible Ark, that is to say His own body” [Dan .vi].

Athanasius of Alexandria (c. a.d. 296– c. a.d. 373): “O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O [Ark of the] Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides” (Homily of the Papyrus of Turin).

Gregory the Wonder Worker (c. a.d. 213– c. a.d. 270): “Let us chant the melody that has been taught us by the inspired harp of David, and say, ‘Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy sanctuary.’ For the Holy Virgin is in truth an ark, wrought with gold both within and without, that has received the whole treasury of the sanctuary” (Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary).

John Damascene (c. a.d. 676–c. a.d. 749): “This day the Holy and Singular Virgin is presented in the sublime and heavenly Temple… This day the sacred and living Ark of the Living God, who bore within her womb her own Creator, took up her rest within that temple of the Lord that was not made with hands… And David her forefather, and her father in God, dances with joy…” [Oration on the Glorious Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God the Ever-Virgin Mary, 2].

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The Blessed Virgin Mary: Ark of the New Covenant

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Reflections on Holy Thursday and the Last Supper

At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the New Covenant, and he also gave us the definitive sacrifice of that Covenant, his very own body, blood, soul and divinity, under the traditional auspices of ordinary bread and wine. Doing so, Jesus perfectly fulfilled all the institutions, holy days and sacrifices of old, particularly the Jewish Passover, making them, along with the totality of the Old Law, things of the past.

If this were not the case, then there would have been no reason for Jesus to give us a “NEW” Covenant at all, since the “OLD” (with a few strategic alterations) might have then sufficed.

2Corinthians 5:17 –

“If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new.”

What had only been prophesied before in scripture, through mysterious types and shadows, was now a new, eternal and saving reality.

Jesus was the lamb whose blood would be poured out, in order to save the people of God from Satan, sin, and eternal death.

The ancient Passover observance was always about Jesus. And once Jesus fully revealed himself and completed his work, all of the ancient observances and feasts would be divinely incorporated into just one universal (Catholic) New Covenant observance of the Paschal Mystery, that we know today as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Lest anyone doubt this is true,  all we need do is consult the Old Testament Book of Malachi, written around 400 years before the Last Supper, where this singular, eternal, and uniquely “unbloody” sacrifice was described and clearly foretold.

Malachi looks forward to a time when only a “clean” (unbloody) sacrifice would be offered up to God … not by the Jews … not only in Jerusalem … but by Gentiles (non-Jews) the world over.

Malachi 1:11

“From the rising of the sun, even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, in every place there is a clean oblation (unbloody sacrifice) for my name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord of Hosts.”

From this it should be absolutely clear … it’s no accident that today, every hour of every day, every day of every year, in virtually every nation, all around the world … Jesus, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass … is offered up to God, for the needs of the whole world. And in this sinful and seriously misguided world, it’s very nice to know that somewhere, there’s always a few good people still faithfully heeding Christ’s personal instructions: “Do this in memory of me.”

Anticipated at the Last Supper, fulfilled at Calvary, made present for us (and for every generation) at Mass … this one time, once for all, eternal sacrifice serves as the “engine of divine grace” that in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, perpetually empowers the Church and sanctifies its members, courtesy of Jesus, our perfect victim, high priest, mediator, God, risen brother and king.

The “token” which confirms God’s promise of salvation is none other than the Holy Eucharist, wherein the same Christ, truly present under the auspices of bread and wine, personally reaffirms his new, sacred and saving  covenant, each and every time we receive him. A better example of a real, close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ is available only in Heaven!

This is why Catholics have priests, rather than ministers, since the primary function of a priest is to offer sacrifice to God, for the people, and the Mass is indeed a true, liturgical re-presentation of Jesus Christ’s singular, perfect, and eternal  sacrifice on the cross, at Calvary. An image of the crucified Jesus on the cross … the crucifix … serves to remind us of this.

It’s also no accident that at the Last Supper, Jesus  instituted the Ministerial Priesthood of the Catholic Church, making the apostles the first New Covenant priests, since the fullness of the ministerial priesthood will always be essential to the basic work of the church (teaching, sanctifying, governing, in Jesus’ name).

It wasn’t until a few days later, when the apostles encountered the risen Christ, that they began to truly understand how all this actually worked. The scriptures explain that Jesus made things pretty clear for them:

Luke 24:44-48  And he (the risen Jesus) said to them: These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the psalms, concerning me.  Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.  And he said to them: Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise again from the dead, the third day:  And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And you are witnesses of these things.

Jesus spent another 40 days working with the apostles, before he ascended to Heaven, promising:

John 14:26  … the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

Even after official USCCB revision, controversy remains over Catholic Catechism, status of the Jews

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“…the Catholic faith is rooted…in the irrevocable covenant made with Abraham…for it is the teaching of both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures that the Jews are beloved of God, who has called them with an irrevocable calling.” This is the covenant that saves Jews and Gentiles, but neither the Jews nor the Gentiles can be a part of it unless they believe as Abraham believed, and today, that means accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, as Scripture says of Abraham and Moses (cf. John 8:56; Heb 11:26; Rom 4:1-4). This was the covenant that divided Jew from Jew, because only those Jews who had a genuine faith-relationship with God and confessed their sins could ever reap the benefits of that covenant (Romans 3:28-4:12). That is why Paul says in Romans 9:6: “For they are not all Israel who are from Israel.” When Christ came, the spiritual side of the Abrahamic covenant became the New Covenant, and Jews and Gentiles are presently being saved in that very covenant (cf. Romans 4:1-24; Gal 3:6-29; Hebrews 10:16-18; 2 Corinthians 3:6-18).

The difference between Abraham’s physical covenant of circumcision and the spiritual covenant of salvation is that all the Jews were part of the former, but only those who believed as God required them to believe were part of the latter.

In the same way, all Jews today who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are part of Abraham’s spiritual covenant, and, of course, those who disbelieve are not members of that covenant, but of the synagogue of Satan, as it were.

The crucial point is: the covenant that is “not revoked” does not apply to ALL Jews. It only applies to believing Jews, Jews who believe in Jesus Christ, the God of Abraham (Galatians 3:29: “And if you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”).

Practically speaking, most Jews (since they do not believe in Jesus Christ) are not members of Abraham’s spiritual covenant, and they have no other covenant that can bring them to God, for there is only one name under heaven by which men can be saved, namely, Jesus Christ.

So, it would behoove Fr. Massa to stop teaching that the Jews, en masse or at large, have “a” covenant with God, and that because of this unidentified covenant they possess some “real relationship with God” or that they possess some lofty spiritual status with God that Gentiles don’t have. There is no such covenant, for in the only covenant that exists today there is no Jew or Gentile in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28).

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Why don’t we (Christians) keep the Saturday Sabbath?

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Q: I understand that we are not under the law because Jesus fulfilled the law. However, we still try to obey the ten commandments. Jesus didn’t tell us we had to stop obeying them. We even fight here in the US to keep the ten commandments on court house walls. We don’t murder. We try not to covet. Etc…etc….

So, my question is, WHY DON’T WE KEEP THE SABBATH? I have read that the Catholic Church was the one that changed it from Saturday to Sunday. I don’t know if that’s true or not. Regardless, we try to keep all of the other commandments, including the two that Jesus commanded, so why not the Sabbath?

A: Nobody perfectly keeps the commandments, not even those who try.

Jesus perfectly fulfilled and respectfully set aside every aspect of the old law, with no exceptions.

If he had not, then we would all still be stuck with every jot and tittle of the old law, until the end of time.

The New Covenant was indeed all new, not a rehash of the old, and it is based on the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Not any law.

The Catholic Church, given the awesome and unrestricted power of binding and loosing by Jesus Christ, readopted and readapted the spirit of the old commandments to the new covenant realities.

Hence, the ten commandments of the Church are different in both word and application from the commandments of old.

This would explain the difference in the way the sabbath is observed today, by most Christians.

Instead of the curse of the law, we now enjoy the grace, mercy, and peace of Jesus Christ, who alone is the definitive end of the law.

Much more on this here:

https://douglawrence.wordpress.com/christ…

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c1a3.h…

I genuinely want to know, not to offend Christians: Why aren’t Christians Jewish?

Q: I genuinely want to know, not to offend Christians:
Why aren’t Christians Jewish?

A: Judaism was temporary … meant to last about 1500 years … and only that long … in order to prove that the only way mankind could receive salvation and reconciliation with God … was courtesy of the holy Messiah … Jesus Christ … and not by ANY other means.

All the promises made specifically to the Jews were fulfilled by God … and once fulfilled … set aside … in favor of a new and better “deal” called the New Covenant … mediated by Christ … through his authentic Church … under only one set of “rules” which now apply to Jews and Gentiles, alike … and which are based on God’s grace and mercy … not on keeping the old law.

Jesus explained it all to the Jews … but instead of accepting the message … they had him put to death … by the Romans.

Some 40 years later, Jersualem was destroyed, and the remaining Jews were scattered to the four winds.

Some 400 years after that, the Roman empire suffered the same fate.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church remains … the world’s oldest, continuous government of any kind .. responsible for all that is good in modern western civilization … and the God-ordained New Covenant faith authority for every Christian, everywhere.