THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (Feast) White
First Reading: Zep 3:14-18a; Psalm: 12. R. 6b; Gospel: Lk 1:39-56
MARY, ARK OF THE COVENANT
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
The ‘Ark of the Covenant’ was the abiding presence of God for the ancient Israelites. It was permanently kept within the ‘Tent of Meeting’ as instructed by God (Ex 40:1-3). Whenever Moses wanted to communicate with God, he went to the ‘Tent of Meeting’ and God would speak to him from the pillar of cloud stationed at the door of the Tent (Ex 33:9). Every Israelite believed that the Ark of the Covenant was the abiding presence of God. Because when it was later captured during the Philistines’ invasion, the Israelites interpreted this as doom on the land. This was the origin of the Israeli name Ichabod, meaning “The glory of the Lord has departed from Israel” (1Sam 4:19-22).
In the New Testament, the Mystery of the Incarnation would reveal that God was not contented on how his abiding presence was confined in an Ark made by human hands. God rather preferred to dwell physically with us in our own form and not through a representation of the work of art. And so God sent his Son who came and took flesh in the womb of a virgin girl called Mary; the purest creature God made specifically for this mission. Mary’s womb then became the new Ark of the Covenant carrying the divine Son of God unlike like the old Ark of the Covenant that carried within it a golden pot containing manna, Aaron’s rod and the Ten Commandment. In this way, Mary became a living and moving tabernacle.
Can we now understand why that extraordinary experience happened in the homestead of Zachariah when Mary visited Elizabeth? It was because God in Mary also visited.
There is a mysterious connection between the old and the new Ark of the Covenant. In Luke 1:39, Mary made a four day journey to visit Elizabeth in the hill country of Judah just as the old Ark of the Covenant was carried to visit Jerusalem (the capital of Judah) from the hill of Abinadad’s house (1Sam 6:3). In Luke 1:41, the child in the womb of Elizabeth leapt for joy at the presence of Mary just as David leapt for joy at the presence of the Ark of the Covenant that was brought to Jerusalem (2Sam 6:5). In Luke 1:43, Elizabeth exclaimed: “Why should I be honoured that the mother of my Lord should come to me.” And in 1Sam 6:9, David exclaimed: “How can the Ark of the Lord come to me?”
So, in the visitation of Mary, we see the proof that she is truly the new Ark of the Covenant who has come to restore the grace of God in our lives.
Ark of the Covenant; pray for us.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, strengthen our devotion to your Virgin Mother. Amen.