WHY DO CATHOLICS BELIEVE IN THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION? (Part 2)

Welcome to the LESSON Twelve in our CATECHESIS CORNER. We appreciate your reading of this corner.

LET US PRAY: Spirit of the Living God, enlighten our minds to know the Truth, strengthen our hearts to accept the Truth and cause us to live for the Truth. Through this Catechesis Corner, restore those who have fallen from the Truth, convince the doubting hearts, clarify the confused minds and lead us all to the fullness of Truth through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Let us continue from where we stopped in the last edition. According to Scott Hahn in his work on BIBLICAL THEOLOGY AND MARIAN STUDIES, narrated thus; Jesus arrives at the wedding feast with His mother and His disciples. A wedding celebration in the Jewish culture of the time normally lasted about a week. Yet we find that, at this wedding, the wine ran out very early. At which point, Jesus’ mother points out the obvious: “They have no wine” ( 2:3). It is a simple statement of fact. But Jesus seems to respond in a way that is far out of proportion to His mother’s simple observation. “0 woman;’ he says, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come” an. 2:4). Then, of course, Jesus defers to His mother, though she never commands Him. She, in turn, merely tells the servants to “Do whatever He tells you” an. 2:5). But let’s return for a moment to Jesus’ initial response. He addressed Mary not as “Mother” or even by name, but as “woman.” What can this mean? Of course, Jesus addressed Mary again as “woman,” but in very different circumstances. As He hung dying on the Cross, He called her “woman” when He gave her as mother to His beloved disciple, John On. 19:26). Jesus’ use of that word represents yet another echo of Genesis. “Woman” is the name Adam gives to Eve (Gen. 2:23). Jesus, then, is addressing Mary as Eve to the New Adam-which heightens the significance of the wedding feast they are attending, whose historical bride and groom are never named.
“Woman” redefines not only Mary’s relationship with Jesus, but also with all believers. When Jesus gives her over to His “beloved disciple,” in effect He gave her to all His beloved disciples of all time. Like Eve, whom Genesis (3:20) calls “mother of all living,” Mary is mother to all who have new life in Baptism. At Cana, then, the New Eve radically reverses the fatal decision of the first Eve. It was “woman” who led the old Adam to his first evil act in the garden. It was “woman” who led the New Adam to His first glorious work.
The figure of Eve reappears later in the New Testament, in the Book of Revelation, which is also attributed to John. There, in chapter 12, we encounter “a woman clothed with the sun” (v. 1), who confronts “the ancient serpent, who is called the devil” (v. 9). These images hark back to Genesis, where Eve faces the demonic serpent in the Garden of Eden, and where God curses the serpent, promising to “put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed” (Gen. 3:15). Yet the images of Revelation also point to a New Eve, one who gave birth to a “male child” (v. 5), and who would “rule all the nations.” That child could only be Jesus; and so the “woman” could only be His mother, Mary. In Revelation, the ancient serpent attacks the New Eve because the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 is fresh in his memory. The New Eve, however, prevails over evil, unlike her long-ago “type” in the Garden of Eden. We can multiply New Testament parallels if we wish, and we need look no further than a few very early patristic sources.
Justin, in his Dialogue with Trypho, gives an extended treatment of the subject of Mary as the New Eve.8 Just a generation later, Irenaeus develops the idea further in two of his works, his tome against the heresies and his Proof of the ApostolicPreaching.9 The motif is firmly established in Tradition.
What is the dogmatic implication of Mary’s status as the New Eve? What is the Church’s infallible interpretation of the biblical record? Cardinal Newman (St. John Newman)taught that the Immaculate Conception was an important and implicit corollary to Mary’s role as the New Eve. He asked: “If Eve was raised above human nature by that indwelling moral gift which we call grace, is it rash to say that Mary had even a greater grace? … And if Eve had this supernatural inward gift given her from the first moment of her personal existence, is it possible to deny that Mary too had this gift from the very first moment of her personal existence?”
The Church carried on its historical reflection on Mary’s sinlessness over the better part of two millennia before the dogma was promulgated in 1854. Important exegetical interlocutors were Justin, Irenaeus, Augustine, Scotus, and Aquinas, among others. While in the West theologians have taught the doctrine somewhat negatively, emphasizing Mary’s sinlessness, the Eastern churches have always put the accent, instead, on her abundant holiness. The affectionate colloquial term for her is Panagia, the All-Holy-for everything in her is holy.
All theologians, however, have this in common: they must discuss Mary’s sinlessness in the context of Eve’s primeval sin. Pope Pius IX also evoked the ancient drama even as he defined the dogma: “the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of Original Sin.” 11
The medieval poets summed up the matter neatly by pointing out that the Angel Gabriel’s Ave (the Latin greeting) reversed the name of Eva. So also did it reverse the rebellious inclination Eve left to her children-to you and to me-and replace it with the readiness to obey, which Mary wants to teach us when she says: “Do whatever He tells you.”
If you are not satisfied, we recommend you read this book “ Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God” by Scott Hahn.
Thanks for reading through, see you in our next edition, endeavour to carry out the study guide below little by little daily before the next lesson or edition. Help to deepen the understanding of the faith by giving a copy of DSD to someone and invite him or her to read the catechesis corner.
FURTHER BIBLE READING: Do read all the bible references made within the passages above
CATECHESIS STUDY GUIDE: CCC No. 1250-1254
BOOKS RECOMMENDATION: Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God” by Scott Hahn and or “Mary in the Bible by Greg Mary Emeka Ajide”
TAKE HOME QUESTION: Give a biblical explanation to Immaculate Conception

1 Comment

  1. thank you.

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