THE EPISTLE OF S. PAUL TO THE COLOSSIANS. CHAPTER I.
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature:
16 For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers : all things were created by him and in him.
17 And he is before all, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things lie may hold the primacy:
19 Because in him it hath well-pleased the Father, that all fulness should dwell.
And He dwelt in the bosom of Mary !
21 And you, whereas you were some time alienated and enemies in mind in evil works:
22 Yet now he hath reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unspotted, and blameless before him.
What marvel, if she from whom He took that body of His flesh which reconciles sinners with God, was never alienated and enemy in mind, but was always holy and unspotted and blameless before Him ?
24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church;
25 Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God, which is given me towards you, that 1 may fulfil the word of God:
26 The mystery which hath been hidden from ages and generations, but now is manifested to his saints,
27 To whom God would make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ, in you the hope of glory.
If S. Paul could suffer meritoriously for others, and could speak of his sufferings as supplying what was wanting of the sufferings of Christ for the Church, and thus bear, in a sense, the office of co-redeemer with Jesus Christ our Redeemer, how much more did Mary fulfil such an office. Why may we not give to her, and in a far more eminent sense than to S. Paul, that title ? S. Paul as minister of the Church, Mary as Mother of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church was made to fulfil the Word of God—Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
That mystery, hidden from ages, was first, and by express embassy from heaven, made manifest to Mary only, viz., Christ in, and of her, " the Word made flesh." Through her was He given and made manifest to all others, Angels as well as men, [1 Tim. iii. 16.] and became in them the hope of glory.
28 That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
And shall not Mary perfect us, and present us before Jesus Christ ?
1 For I would have you know, what manner of care I have for you and for them that are at Laodicea, and whosoever have not seen my face in the flesh:
5 For though I be absent in body, yet in spirit I am with you ; rejoicing, and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith which is in Christ.
Then Mary, too, may in heaven have a care for her children still on earth, and may wish us to know that loving care : for we are all as much Mary's children as S. John, whom Jesus Christ from the Cross gave to her for a son, and who saw her face in the flesh. And though now absent in body, she may yet be present with us in spirit, rejoicing and beholding our order and the steadfastness of our faith which is in Christ.
3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporally;
10 And you are filled in him, who is the head of all principality and power.
These words might literally, though in another sense, have been written of Mary in whom the Divine Word with all His infinite treasures of wisdom and knowledge dwelt corporally for nine months. As says S. Anselm, "Christ is in Mary. Therefore in Mary are all the treasures of God's wisdom and knowledge.'' [In Luc. c. x.] And Isidore, Archbishop of Thessalonica : "To Mary may be applied the words of the great Apostle, concerning her Son, that in her were hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge." [Ap. Summ. Aur B. M. V. tom, iv., p. 610.]
19 And not holding the head, from which the whole body, by joints and bands, being supplied with nourishment and compacted, groweth unto the increase of God.
"In the mystical body of Christ," writes Morales, "He Himself holds the place of head, as the Apostle said above, [i.18, and ii. 10.] and all the faithful are its members. [See Rom, xii. 4, 5, and 1 Cor. xii. 27, supra.] But between the head and the members comes the neck. . . . Now the Blessed Virgin, is most fitly represented by the neck : for as on the neck are hung costly chains, jewels, necklaces, and precious stones, so has Christ conferred all gifts of graces, all virtues, all beauties, in a word all perfections upon His Mother Mary, His Spouse, of whom is well understood what is written in the Canticles : ' Thy neck is as the tower of David, which is built with bulwarks; a thousand bucklers hang upon it, all the armour of valiant men.' [Cant. iv. 4.] For in the Virgin are, and from her neck hang, all the beauties of Esther, of Judith, of Rachel, and Rebecca, the reverend modesty of Sara, the amiability of Rebecca, the fruitfulness of Leah, the pru dence of Abigail, the courage and fortitude of Judith, the graciousness of Esther, the chastity of Susanna, the thoughtful diligence of the Sunamitess, the hospitality of the widow of Sarepta, the purity of Angels, the dignity of Apostles, the constancy of Martyrs, the wisdom of Doctors, the abstinence of Confessors, the modesty of Virgins, the humility and obedience of Religious ; in a word, whatever else there is of beauty, nobility, riches, learning, strength, prudence, chastity, and any other virtue or excellence : since the Blessed Virgin contains them all in most surpassing measure : and they are bulwarks most strong for warding off all the darts of the enemy, the world, and the flesh. With good reason, therefore, have we said of the Blessed Virgin : ' Thy neck is as the tower of David,' etc. : since whatever belongs to Christ, or the Eternal Word, and is attributed in Holy Writ to the Church, His mystical body, by participation, is all to be ascribed to the Blessed Virgin pre-eminently and by excellence. Hence she is called Mother of Mercy, our Life, Sweetness and Hope ; our Advocate, Queen and Lady ; the Spouse, Sister, Friend, and Daughter." [In cap. i. Matt., etc. L. ii., tr. x. See a striking passage from S. Antoninus (P. iv., tit. 15, cap. 14, 7) where, applying to the B. V. M. the words of S. Paul, Heb. iv. 16, he teaches that in Mary are found, in eminent degree, the perfections of God, and the virtues of all the Saints of the Old and New Testament, whose examples are recorded for our instruction. "] Again, under this same similitude is under stood Mary's patronage — her favour and intercession with God, — since her intercession is, so to say, the neck through which all divine graces and helps pass from Christ the Head to men." [See Ib. 1. iii. tr. x.] " An ancient author, probably S. Sophronius, in a sermon on the Assumption, published with the works of S. Jerome, says that ' the plenitude of grace, which is in Jesus Christ, came into Mary, though in a different way,' meaning, that it is in our Lord, as in the head, from which the vital spirits (that is, Divine help to obtain eternal salvation) flow into us, who are the members of His mystical body, and that the same plenitude is in Mary, as in the neck, through which these vital spirits pass to the members." [S. Alph. Lig. Glories of Mary, p. 127. See S. Bernardine of Sienna infra, James i. 17.]