THE EPISTLE OF S. PAUL TO THE HEBREWS. CHAPTER X.
5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith: Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldest not: but a body thou hast fitted to me :
19 Having therefore, brethren, a confidence in the entering into the Holies by the blood of Christ;
20 A new and living way which he hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.
21 And a high-priest over the house of God.
There is here no direct reference to Mary, and to the share which she had in giving that Body, of Flesh and Blood, whereby Christ became at once our High-priest and Sacrifice. But the thought of Mary could not have been absent from the Apostle's mind, illumined so fully as he was to see the whole mysteries of which he wrote in all their truth and bearings.
11 By faith also Sara herself, being barren, received strength to conceive seed, even past the time of age; because she believed that he was faithful who had promised,
12 For which cause there sprung even from one (and him as good as dead) as the stars of heaven in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea-shore innumerable.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered Isaac: and he that had received the promises, offered up his only-begotten son;
18 (To whom it was said: In Isaac shall thy seed be called).
19 Accounting that God is able to raise up even from the dead. "Whereupon also he received him for a parable.
" If," says S. Alphonsus, " the sacrifice of Abraham by which he offered his son Isaac was so pleasing to the Divine Majesty, that as a reward God promised to multiply his descendants as the stars of heaven: 'Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy only-begotten son for My sake, I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven: [Gen. xxii. 16, 17. See supra, Rom. iv. 3, 16-25 ; ix. 8, 9 ; Gal. iii. 6-9, 14, 1C, 18, 22, 26-29 ; iv. 22-31 ; and infra, James ii. 21-23.] we must certainly believe that the more noble sacrifice which the great Mother of God made to Him of her Jesus, was far more agreeable to Him; and therefore, that He has granted, that through her prayers the number of the elect should be multiplied; that is to say, increased by the number of her fortunate children; for she considers and protects all her devout clients as such." [Discourse on the Purification. Glories of Mary, p. 344.]
" ' So also,' says S. Bonaventure, ' we can say of Mary, that she has so loved us, as to give her only-begotten Son for us.' ... If Abraham had such fortitude as to be ready to sacrifice with his own hands the life of his son, with far greater fortitude would Mary (far more holy and obedient than Abraham) have sacrificed the life of hers." [Ib. pp. 32, 3.]
38 Of whom the world was not worthy ; wandering in deserts, in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth.
39 And all these being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise;
40 God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us.
Jesus and Mary were above all others those of whom the world was not worthy, and were at the same time, of all the most despised, and had most to suffer. " He came to His own, and His own received Him not." [John i.11.] Of Himself He said: "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." [Matt. viii. 20 ; Luke ix. 58.] Mary shared in all His contempt and misery. She had to betake herself to-the cold stable-cave at Bethlehem in mid-winter to give Him birth; in her flight with Him to Egypt to take refuge in dens and caves amongst the mountains, and to wander hither and thither through the inhospitable desert, and to dwell with Him homeless in a strange land. When expressing their contempt for Jesus, the Jews coupled her name with His, saying: " Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary?" [Matt. xiii. 55 ; Mark vi. 3 ; John vi. 42.]
" If Paul says of the other saints, Of whom the world was not worthy, what shall we say of the Mother of God, who outshines all the Martyrs, as much as does the sun the stars?" [S. Basil of Seleucia. Orat. x. de Annunt.]
But Mary, being above all others approved by the testimony of faith, received the promise, even her God to be her Son, through whom some better thing has been provided for us, that we may be perfected not wanting in any grace.
22 But you are come to Mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels,
23 And to the church of the first-born, who are written in the heavens, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just, made perfect.
24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new testament, and to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel.
Mary is in truth the holy city and habitation of the living God, Who dwelt in her chaste womb for nine months. As Mother of God she is exalted higher far in the heavens than His myriads of Angels. She is, of all the elect, the first-born,. next after her Divine Son— Primogenitus a mortuis —the first. of creatures written in God's decrees. [See Note, James i. 18, infra.] If we are brought nigh to God, to Jesus the Mediator of the New Testament, to the Angels, and to the spirits of the just, we are, in a special manner, brought nigh to Mary, our own earth-born daughter, the glory of our race: through whom we obtained for us Jesus our Mediator, from whom He received that precious Blood which pleads so powerfully in our behalf. If already we are brought nigh to the Angels who are of a different nature from ourselves, Mary in heaven is not estranged from us here on earth—from us for whom she was made what she is. But Mary, now in glory, to whom is she herself brought nigh? and liow nigh? What is her proximity now to Jesus and to God? Is she less near than she was when on earth ? Dominus tecum. For we should note that this present approach, this actual proximity of ours, is the climax of all the glorious privileges liere enumerated by the Apostle, as belonging to us Christians in the Communion of Saints: You are come, he says. What then must be the climax for Mary, for her who was ever with God, for her to whom Jesus Christ first came; of whom He was and is; through whom He came to all others, and all others come to Him ?
28 Therefore, receiving an immovable kingdom, we have grace whereby let us serve, pleasing God, with fear and reverence.
This is all realised in Mary: "Hail, full of grace." "Behold the handmaid of the Lord." "Thou hast found grace with God." " He hath regarded the humility of His handmaiden." " His mercy is on them that fear Him." " Holy is His Name."
12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his -own blood, suffered without the gate.
13 Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
Where Jesus suffered, there was Mary: " Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother." [John xix. 25.] She went forth to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. Let us follow Mary ; she is our example.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name.
16 And do not forget to do good, and to impart; for by such .sacrifices God's favour is obtained.
By Jesus, present in her virginal womb, Mary offered to God the sacrifice of praise, confessing to His Name, when she poured forth her Canticle, " My soul doth magnify the Lord. . . . Holy is His Name. . . ." Her offering of praise was not alone the fruit of her lips, but Jesus Himself, "the blessed fruit of her womb."
We need but to recall the scenes of the Visitation, and the Wedding-feast at Cana, to see that Mary forgot not to do good and to impart to others of the gifts and graces which she had herself received, and that the acts which she there did, were sacrifices acceptable and well-pleasing to God, since it was through her mediation that He then wrought such great marvels.
20 And may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great pastor of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the blood of the everlasting testament,
21 Fit you in all goodness, that you may do his will; doing in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom is glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The God of peace, in reconciling the world to Himself, filled Mary with grace to do His will — Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum —and wrought in her that which was well pleasing in His sight, so that she became the Mother of the great Pastor of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, who shed His Blood for our redemption, and rose again from the dead for our justification.
24 Salute ... all the saints.
Ave, Regina caelorum,
Ave Domina Angelorum ;
Salve radix, salve porta
Ex qua mundo lux est orta.
Gaude, Virgo gloriosa;
Super omnes speciosa;
Vale 0 valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.