Most Blessed Are You Among Women
I will put
enmities between thee and the woman,
and thy seed and her seed:
she shall crush thy head,
and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
Genesis 3, 15 (DRB)
heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
Luke 1, 41-42
The first Messianic prophecy in the wake of the fall of Adam and Eve includes the free Woman of Promise whose fulfillment is reached in the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. In view of Eve’s transgression and her moral involvement in the fall of Adam (אָדָם / mankind), God declares to the serpent that He will put the woman in complete opposition and hostility (ebah/אֵיבָה) with it. Who God is referring to isn’t Eve, but her anti-type: a woman who God promises the serpent shall vindicate the former in her disobedience to Him by her perfect obedience to His will. And, by doing so, she will crush its head. The enmity between Mary and the serpent shall therefore be in the same likeness of that of her divine Son’s with the Devil’s offspring: wicked and sinful humanity; particularly the scribes and Pharisees (or “brood of vipers," as Jesus calls them) who will plot against Jesus and have him put to death by the Romans because he claimed to be the “Son of God” and presumed to have “the power to forgive sins.”
said to her, “Blessed are you daughter, by the Most High God, above all the
on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth, who guided your blow at
the head of the leader of our enemies.”
καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ ᾿Οζίας· εὐλογητὴ σύ, θύγατερ, τῷ Θεῷ τῷ ῾Υψίστῳ παρὰ πάσας τὰς γυναῖκας
τὰς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, καὶ εὐλογημένος Κύριος ὁ Θεός, ὃς ἔκτισε τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τὴν γῆν, ὃς
κατεύθυνέ σε εἰς τραῦμα κεφαλῆς ἄρχοντος ἐχθρῶν ἡμῶν
“And blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
καὶ ἀνεφώνησεν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ καὶ εἶπεν Εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν
καὶ εὐλογημένος ὁ καρπὸς τῆς κοιλίας σου
And to the woman
were given two wings of a great
eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her
place, where she is nourished for a time, and times,
and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
For Mary, there never has been any transition from the state of sin to the life of grace because of her total enmity with the serpent. Grace has preceded her birth, for she has been predestined to be the Mother of God. The blessed mother of our Lord is untouched by the propensity of human nature to sin against God. Her desire to please God by aligning her will with His has never faltered. Mary is plagued by no dark imaginations that can draw her sensitive appetites towards anything that displeases God. The prince of this world holds no dominion over her. The unruly desires of the will, such as pride, envy, ambition, greed, and lust do not lie dormant within Mary, but only the supernatural virtues which God desires she should possess in His love and goodness: faith, hope, charity, chastity, humility, kindness, patience, fortitude, wisdom, gentleness, and so on.
The kingdom of heaven on earth isn't essentially a place or a terrestrial dominion, but the divine quality of the human soul sanctified by God's grace existing in this world: a lamp set upon a hill to shed its light before others so that they will see her goodness and glorify God in return. Of all human creatures re-created by the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the light of the world par excellence who has this light to give to all those who wish to be kingdoms themselves like her by perfectly emulating her Divine Son in his humanity (Mt 5:14-16). Mary is the prototype of the Church by being our perfect model of faith and charity in God's grace. Most blessed is she indeed.
And so, the Kingdom of God is within Mary, and God alone rules in her soul through the Holy Spirit, her Creator blessed. Her soul resembles an unspoiled wilderness with untilled soil untouched by the human settlement of worldly wisdom and unnatural desires that deviate from the original goodness of creation. Mary is carried aloft on the wings of divine grace over the lower region of sinful humanity. She is beyond the dragon's reach and the raging waters of sin having escaped from landing in its clutches, for she hasn't been born in sinful slavery within its dominion. Our Blessed Lady is the free Woman promised by God, whose holy offspring is the free Son of promise.
As the lily
so is my love among the daughters.
Song of Solomon 2, 2
St. Luke characterizes the Virgin Mary as a living symbol of the pneumatic Church or Kingdom of God, having no “spot or wrinkle”, but is “holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27). She personifies the heavenly Church which is essentially the pilgrim Church on earth. He presents her as the perfect model for all the faithful who have been predestined to grace and are children of God by adoption, “chosen to be holy and without blemish before Him” (Eph 1:3-6). Our Blessed Lady embodies the highest stage of conversion that baptized Christians are called to attain, viz. the state of spiritual perfection and mystical union with God, albeit the many imperfections that remain in those who have advanced this far and are still at war with the dragon in their spiritual combat.
Mary’s blessedness is equal to the blessedness of her Son, though not by nature but by grace. And since she is preserved free from the stain of original sin by the grace of God, St. Paul’s exhortation to all the faithful, that they “put off the old nature for the new nature” does not apply to her (Eph 4:22-24). Mary is God's re-creation of fallen humanity from the time she has been first created upon the infusion of her soul into the body.
The fullness of grace with which Mary is endowed is a singular gift from God in virtue of her Divine Maternity. She is certainly the model of spiritual perfection in her mystical communion with God, since His heavenly kingdom has circumscribed her soul. The interior life that Mary leads is complete without any spiritual imperfections. Yet she is maturing as she increases in wisdom and knowledge through life's experiences. Mary’s soul searches for the deep things of God for greater understanding of Him, but without the slightest regression or fall from grace (1 Cor 2:10). Her soul is completely detached from the created world and united with the non-created God. She lives her life in spirit and in truth. The motto of her soul is faithfulness and abandonment. She who follows her Son walks not in darkness but possesses the light of life (Jn 8:12) by walking in the light as her Son is in the light (1 Jn. 1:7), he who has claimed to be the "light of the world." The Holy Spirit who is love enlightens her soul in the perfection of love. She is God's perfect creation, ever-blossoming in perfection.
Sing aloud, O
daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3, 14-18
Our Most Blessed Lady loves God with a pure and perfect love, and by loving Him, she can love her neighbour with a totally unfailing love that reflects God’s absolute love. Mary’s love of human souls derives its existence from the love God has for her (1 Jn 4:19). She understands and fully appreciates what true love really means. The love she has for others is that same eternal love she has received from God and cherishes above all temporal goods. Her love may be finite, but it is perfect; since Mary’s soul is free of all pride, ego, and selfishness. God is the supreme object of her soul before whom she humbly denies herself and thereby becomes the mother of God the Son. God raises up and exalts the humble or lowly, and so, all Christian generations shall declare the Virgin Mary blessed for all the "great things" He has done to her (Lk 1:48-49).
The Blessed Virgin Mary is God’s greatest creation, of all human creatures. God has fashioned her to be renewed unto the knowledge of Him to be charitable, which is the bond of perfection. Since she has been of age, Mary has sought only “the things that are above, where her Son is, seated at the right hand of God.” She has always “set her mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,” for she has died to this world, and her life “is hidden with Christ in God.” Because Mary has been chosen and made to be the holy Mother of God, her divine Son has revealed himself within her soul which proclaims his glory. Thus, she shall be “revealed with him” in the glory of her Assumption body and soul into Heaven. All Mary has done throughout her life “in word or deed” she has done “in the name of the Lord” (Col 3:17). By the plenitudes of grace our Most-Blessed Lady has received, the kingdom of God is “neither here nor there” but “within” Mary in an exceptional way (Lk 17:21).
The Protestant theologian Karl Barth rightly stated: “Jesus himself is the kingdom, he was the kingdom, and will be the kingdom, and in him exists the entire establishment, all the salvation, all the joy of the kingdom.” "The identity between Church and kingdom,” Christoph Cardinal Schonborn says, “has its basis in Christ,” yet “there is no higher concretization of this identity for the Church than the Mother of God. It would not be possible to assert this identity if its only basis was Christ, the Head of the Church, and there was no real perfect correspondence on the side of the members of the Church (Mystical Body of Christ) … If Mary did not exist in the Church, then there would be a distance between the Church and the kingdom, because of the presence of sinners in the Church… In Mary, the most perfect member of the Church, we can contemplate the Church’s true nature… ‘As the Mother of Jesus… is the image and the beginning of the Church, which will be perfected in the world to come, so she also shines here on earth in the intermediary time until the day of the Lord comes… as a sign of sure hope and of consolation to the people of God on its pilgrim way’” (Lumen Gentium 58).
the joy of the whole earth,
is mount Zion,
on the sides of the north,
the city of the great King.
Psalm 48, 2
Early Sacred Tradition
holy Virgin, and prepared a robe which He wove for Himself, like a bridegroom, in the
sufferings of the cross, in order that by uniting His own power with our moral body, and by
mixing the incorruptible with the corruptible, and the strong with the weak, He might save
Treatise on Christ and antiChrist, 4
for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother.
Who of my children can compare in beauty to these?”
St. Ephraem of Syria
Nisibene Hymns 27:8