My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant. (Luke 1:46-48)
Today’s first reading from the Book of Revelation, far from being a mysterious puzzle of apocalyptic symbols difficult to decipher, is a thrilling story of familiar Biblical images that shows God’s power to save the just from unimaginable evil. It gestures towards Mary and the lavish love of God for the humble, the poor and the lowly. In Mary, God has shown the full strength of his arm preserving her from bodily corruption and forever lifting up the lowly. It is no surprise, then, that Elizabeth proclaimed her “blessed among all women” because God looked with favor on her, made her “full” of grace, and incarnated in her womb.
In John’s apocalyptic vision, the Ark of God’s Covenant is unveiled in Heaven when the Temple of God opens: A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1) This beautiful description of the Ark of God crowned in heaven, points to no other but Mary, Queen of heaven and earth, signified by the stars in her crown and the symbolic number twelve.
The Ark was Israel’s most precious religious symbol. The waters of the Jordan River were parted when the Ark was carried to it; the massive walls of Jericho fell down when the Ark was carried around it. King David danced for joy in a great procession when the Ark was finally carried into Jerusalem. In the Gospel of today, we are given a hint of this Marian reality when the child in Elizabeth’s womb, like David before the Ark, leaps for joy at the sound of Mary’s greetings, which would’ve been: “Shalom Aleichem.”
Mary gives birth to a male Child, who is caught up to God in Heaven. The woman is given the two wings of the “great eagle” to fly to her “special place prepared by God,” safe from evil. (Revelation 12:14) It is clear that unlike her Son, who ascended into heaven, Mary was assumed by a mighty deed of God, as it was fitting that the immaculate body from which He took flesh and blood would not see decay.
Psalm 45 fully discloses the special place prepared by God for Mary: “The Queen takes her place at your right hand in the gold of Ophir.” When the mother of James and John asked Jesus to sit her sons at his left and right hand in His Kingdom, Jesus replied that those places were already prepared by God for those He had chosen. In Heaven, at the right hand of Jesus, clothed in splendor, sits His Queen Mother, kindly and mercifully looking after her children here on earth.
Since the beginning (Genesis 3:15), the dragon is “angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments….” (Revelation 12:17) be not afraid! Let us remember that the dragon is angry at the woman and will try to dissuade us from calling on her for help. Like the Israelites, we must carry the Ark of God in our hearts during our earthly pilgrimage to the Promised Land. With her powerful intercession, strong fortresses will fall down, raging waters will be parted in two, and our earthly cravings, unruly passions and strong temptations will be destroyed to clear the way to Jesus, our King.
Having such a powerful intercessor, I will run to my Heavenly Mother when I am discouraged, when my faith falters, or when in my humanity, I might feel unworthy to go directly to the King. As a loving Mother, the Queen will receive my petitions with a smile and bring them, and even me, to Jesus. She knows how to approach the King, and I am sure that she will personally ask Jesus, as in Cana, to transform my water into wine, my doubts into faith, and my unworthiness into gratitude for the great things God has done in my life. I know that the King will not deny any of her requests.
Oh, how confident I would feel, if at the end of my pilgrimage, I am brought to the Throne of Judgement by the hand of my Heavenly Mother to bend the knee before the King of Kings!
Mary, full of grace, intercede for us that have recourse to Thee!
Sister Marta is a Sister Disciple of the Divine Master from Nicaragua. A former Architect and City Planner, she became a professed Secular Franciscan in 1997 and joined the Congregation of the Sister Disciples in 2000. She currently lives at the Pauline Disciple of the Divine Master convent in Boston, Massachusetts.