St. Luke weaves together Old Testament typology with New Testament truth throughout his Gospel; this is breathtakingly evident today as we see Mary held up as the Ark of the New Covenant.
The original Ark was kept in the tabernacle God instructed Moses to build in the wilderness, and it held a golden jar of manna, Aaron’s rod, and the stone tablets of the Covenant. A mysterious cloud – now dark, now light – covered the tent and filled the tabernacle, revealing the presence of God Himself. Later, when David goes to retrieve the Ark (see 1 Sam 6), he has second thoughts when one of the attendants is struck dead, and he says, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” and leaves the ark in the hill country for three months. David also danced and leapt in front of the ark when he brought it into Jerusalem (2 Sam 6).
See the parallels with today’s Gospel? Luke is clearly leading us in a direction!
- Both the ark and Mary are “overshadowed” by the Spirit of God. The same Greek word (episkiasei) is used for the overshadowing at the Annunciation and the cloud at the Transfiguration of Jesus, and is associated with the shekinah glory of God in Exodus.
- Both the ark and Mary traveled to the hill country of Judea.
- Both the ark and Mary remained there for three months.
- Both the ark and Mary eventually arrive in Jerusalem.
- Dressed as a priest, David dances and leaps before the ark; John the Baptist (of priestly lineage) leaps in his mother’s womb at the approach of Mary.
- There is joyful shouting as the ark is carried to Jerusalem; Elizabeth exclaims with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
- David asks, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” Elizabeth asks, “How can the mother of my Lord come to me?”
From ancient times, the Church has taught these beautiful parallels revealing God’s Plan for the world, drawing additional reflections from the CONTENTS of the Ark and Mary:
- The ark held the word of God inscribed on stone tablets; Mary carries the Body of Jesus Christ, the word of God in flesh.
- The ark held manna, the miraculous bread from heaven; Mary carries Jesus, the true Bread from heaven.
- The ark held the rod of Aaron that budded to prove the true high priest; Mary carries Jesus, the actual and eternal High Priest!
As we prepare to welcome our Redeemer at Christmas, we can marvel at the long choreography of God, Who prepared His people and prepared the way for His Son to enter the world to save it through the Ark of the New Covenant, whose most profound identity is BELIEVER. “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Wishing you and all those you love a blessed Christmas and peaceful New Year.
Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com
Feature Image Credit: https://www.wfmt.com/2016/12/22/chicago-composer-brings-recently-restored-st-stanislaus-kostka-church-darkness-light/