Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mary, The New Eve

Dear Parish Faithful,

During such a hectic week, with the Nativity only a few days away, I believe that we need to turn whatever extra attention we have to something of substance. That would have to be Christ Himself and His mother, the Theotokos, who is so bound to her Son in the mystery of the Incarnation - God becoming flesh. By the second century, the early Church Fathers, such as St. Justin the Martyr, began to refer to the Virgin Mary as the "new Eve," based on the fact that Christ was the "new Adam," according the the Apostle Paul. The teaching that the Virgin Mary is the new Eve was further developed and deepened by St. Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 202 A.D.). This allowed St. Irenaeus, perhaps the Church's first true biblical theologian, to teach how the Virgin Mary was an integral part of the process known as "recapitulation" - the reversal and "re-heading" of humanity through the incarnation of the Son of God. There is a "new creation" in Christ who is Himself a "new beginning" that returns us to the Father. St. Irenaeus understands the role of the Virgin Mary as reversing the role of the first virgin Eve, in the following manner:

Even though Eve had Adam for a husband, she was still a virgin... By disobeying, she became the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race. In the same way, Mary, though she also had a husband, was still a virgin, and by obeying, she became the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race... The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience. What Eve bound through her unbelief, Mary loosed by her faith. (Against Heresies 3, 22).

This is that type of passage from the Church Fathers that provides us with some truly meaningful thought for further mediation. As you are perhaps losing your mind in these final days before Christmas, turn your inward attentiveness to Mary as the "new Eve." We will follow St. Irenaeus as he develops the fascinating parallelism and contrast between Eve-Mary with another passage tomorrow.

Fr. Steven

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