Summary: We need to discover and appreciate the parallel between the Ark of the Covenant and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Memorial of St. Alphonsus
“The Overshadowing Cloud”
Matthew: Jesus said to His disciples: 47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 51 "Have you understood all this?" They said to him, "Yes." 52 And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." 53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there.
The treasure guarded by the householder is the same as the treasure hidden in a field, or the truly precious pearl found by the pearl merchant. The treasure is not a thing, not even an idea or ideal. The treasure is a person. What was stored in the Ark of the Covenant was only a foreshadowing of the true contents of the Ark. Inside this box were samples of the manna, the tablets of the Law, and Aaron’s blossoming rod. The Ark was lost when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple of Solomon and carried off its contents. So the Holy of Holy was empty when the Temple was rebuilt. But not empty forever.
Elizabeth was six months pregnant with John the Baptist when the angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin called Mary. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” If she consented, she would be the mother of the Savior. “How can this be?” The Holy Spirit would overshadow her. This was an exact parallel to the passage we just heard–a cloud overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant. Mary was the true Ark, and Jesus was the treasure inside her womb, and inside her heart and mind. Jesus, whose name meant “The Lord saves.” And, if we need more proof, we can look at the last book of the Bible, Revelations, and see the vision of the Ark of the Covenant revealed in the heavenly temple. We read that a great sign appeared in heaven–a woman clothed with the sun, a woman who gave birth to the King who would rule heaven and earth. Mary is the Ark, and Jesus is the new Law, the true manna, born in the House of Bread–Bethlehem–and laid in a feedbox. He is the treasure, and to follow Him is our privilege. “How lovely is Thy dwelling place, Lord, God of Hosts.” So we are not surprised to learn that our saint today, Alphonsus, was the greatest Mariologist of the 18th century. He defended the place and ministry of Mary in the Church against the rationalists of today. Let’s remember to invoke his prayers, and Mary’s, as we defend and promote the mission of the church in this age of skepticism and infidelity.