Summary: The woman of the Visitation and the woman of the Book of Revelations are one person, the Mother of Jesus.

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Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2013

The New Ark

In the year 1981 a feature movie was released that immediately made Harrison Ford a household name, and that reminded the general public of something from the Bible. The movie was called “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and the Ark in the title is the Hebrew Ark of the Covenant. Now most of the so-called history in the movie was pure hogwash, but there was one line that we might all remember: “An army which carries the Ark before it... is invincible.”

The original Ark, according to the Torah, was crafted under the authority of Moses, and contained items critical to the identity of the Hebrew people–the Israelites. It contained, among other things, the tablets of the Mosaic Law, or Ten Commandments, and the manna that nourished the people in the desert for forty years. That Ark was, in fact, carried with the Hebrew armies, and they were invincible–kind of. During the time of the Judges, the Hebrews fought the Philistines in a battle in which the Ark was captured by the enemy. It was eventually recovered and brought into the Temple of Jerusalem. But it was not the Ark that made the Hebrews victorious. It was their faithfulness to the Divine Law. When they went whoring after false gods, and especially when that idolatry involved prostitution and the murder of their infant children, God turned His back on them and let Jerusalem be destroyed and the Ark stolen by the Babylonians. It was permanently lost and probably destroyed. When the Temple was rebuilt, the place where the Ark should have been kept was empty.

Today the Book of Revelations, or Apocalypse, says that the Ark of the Covenant was seen in the heavenly Temple, the real and eternal Temple. And then there is a chapter break and a woman is seen. The division is artificial. The original book had no chapter markings. So the great sign that appeared in heaven, the woman clothed with the sun, is the Ark of the Covenant. Who is this woman who is the Ark? Who has within her the physical appearance of God’s presence, the New Law, and the manna from heaven? Elizabeth, in today’s Gospel, answers the question when she asks “Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” That is almost a verbatim quote of what David said when the Ark of the Covenant came to Jerusalem, “who am I that the Ark of my Lord should come to me?”

Yes, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the mother of the Lord, the Lord Jesus. He is the physical appearance of God’s presence among His people. He is the New Law of Love–“love one another as I have loved you.” He is the manna from heaven, the Bread of Life, born in a feed box and present every time we celebrate Mass.

Did Mary get a swelled head when honored by Elizabeth? No. She knew who was important in the scene of the Visitation–the miracle of God-man growing in her womb. Her soul–her whole life–glorified the Lord. Her spirit could rejoice, but not in herself. She rejoiced in the God who had saved her by preserving her from all sin as the Immaculate mother of the Word Incarnate. Of herself, she was lowly–a poor woman from a nowhere village. But God raised her up, as He intends to raise up all who understand their poverty and turn to Him for redemption and healing.

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