The Ark of your Might

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Today marks the 103rd anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima. All such apparitions are judged the way we judge any private revelation, namely, by whether they are in accord with the Faith revealed once and for all to the saints and handed down to us in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. One of the most consoling messages of Fatima was Our Lady’s promise that her Immaculate Heart would triumph over devastation and darkness. But what does this mean? Is this new revelation? One way to approach this is to look at Scripture typologically, searching for connections the authors of the New Testament, human and divine, may have wanted us to make. Specifically, we might look at the Gospel of Luke.

When Mary visits Elizabeth, the latter greets her with joyful amazement and asks, “And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43) Yet Mary not only visits Elizabeth, she remains there three months. While many commentators see this as Luke’s way of rounding off a discrete episode, it also establishes a close connection with another episode of Scripture: David’s first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem. There, as the oxen bearing ark stumble, a man named Uzzah reaches out to steady it and is struck dead. David becomes afraid, asking, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” and leaves it for three months with a man named Obed-edom (2 Samuel 6:9-11).

Luke likely knew the Septuagint version of Samuel, and the Greek there is similar to the words he gives Elizabeth. She wonders, “Kai pothen moi touto hina ēlthē hē mētēr tou Kuriou mou pros eme?” while David asks, “Pōs eiseleusetai pros me hē kibōtos Kuriou?” The mother of my Lord (hē mētēr tou Kuriou mou)—the ark of the Lord (hē kibōtos Kuriou) seem more than incidentally parallel. Pothen and pōs are cousins, while ēlthē and eiseleusetai come from the same verb, erchomai. Elizabeth might have asked how she could receive (dechomai) the mother of her Lord, but Luke seems to deliberately parallel Samuel. I suggest Luke wants to depict Our Lady as the new ark of the covenant, bearing within her womb the very presence of God.

The ark served as the physical locus of God dwelling with His people. Yet it was also an object of military might, as at Jericho. When Solomon brings the ark into the Temple he prays, “And now arise, O LORD God, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of Your might” (2 Chronicles 6:41).  Our Lady is the new ark of God’s might, and she likewise has gone up to God’s resting place, having kept all the words concerning her Son in her heart (Luke 2:51), as the ark contained the word given to Moses. Her Immaculate Heart has already triumphed in her Assumption, and will triumph among us, but not without our hearts having accepted God’s word.

Before David went to retrieve the ark, it was lost to the Philistines due to the presumption of the Israelite army (1 Samuel 4:10-11). Our Lady’s promise should bring us great hope and consolation, but never presumption. The triumph of her Immaculate Heart must be in our hearts, as her prayers win for us the graces necessary to follow her example.

Br. Columban Mary Hall, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE