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(Part 14)


December 8, 2011
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Today’s reading: Genesis 3:9-20

Genesis 3 tells us about the fall of Adam and Eve. This caused them, and us, to lose paradise. But God’s plan is not to be thwarted. So here we have the first prophecy of the coming of a Savior. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (Gen 3:15). The offspring of the woman deals a death blow to the head of the serpent. This prophecy is about Jesus, who gives his life on the cross, and by his resurrection, conquers Satan, and enables our restoration to God’s plan, with eventual entry into paradise, which is heaven.

Now God in these passages was addressing the serpent, the woman and the man. The woman is Eve. But the prophecy is about Jesus, who is the offspring of Mary. Mary is the new Eve.

Just as Jesus is the new Adam, so Mary is the new Eve.

There are similarities between Eve and Mary.

  • Eve was specially graced when created. She had no sin. Mary in turn was full of grace, and kept undefiled by original sin (the sin of Eve). This is her Immaculate Conception.
  • God was present in a special and unique way at the coming to life of both Eve and Mary. God created Eve out of Adam’s rib, while God preserved Mary from original sin at her conception.
  • Both walked with God in a special way. Eve lived in the garden with God. Mary lived with Jesus in Nazareth.
  • Both had an encounter with the devil, with great consequences on their lives and on the life of the world.
  • Eve became the mother of the human race (Gen 3:20b). Mary is the mother of all humanity.

More than the similarities however, the contrast between the old and the new Eve is striking. Eve was proud and disobeyed God, while Mary was humble and obeyed Him. With Eve the perfect beauty of God’s creation was marred, while in Mary the original beauty of creation is restored. Through Eve death came into the world and paradise was lost, while through Mary the One who is Life came into the world and paradise was regained.

Eve was the wife of Adam. Mary was the wife of Joseph (and the spouse of the Holy Spirit as well). In their spousal relationship there is a stark contrast.

Due to Adam and Eve’s sin, their unity was shattered. Eve’s being mother and wife would now be characterized by suffering and subjugation (Gen 3:16). Their sexual relationship, once pure and without shame (Gen 2:25), would now be marked by lust and domination (Gen 3:16b).

On the other hand, Mary would truly be one in heart and spirit with Joseph. They lived a tranquil life of mutual respect and caring. They lived their spousal love in holy continence.

Mary, the new Eve, is the epitome of the authentic woman. She has inner beauty, strength of character, faithfulness to God and family. She makes a total offering of herself in fulfilling God’s plan and for the good of humanity. She loves without reservation.

In the end, Eve lost it all—paradise, being in God’s presence, unity with her husband, and a great future. On the other hand, Mary gained it all, for herself and for those who follow her along the path of her Son—eternal life, being in God’s presence forever in heaven, unity in the one body of Christ, and a future full of hope.

The fate of Eve was defeat (Gen 3:16), while the fate of Mary was victory (Gen 3:15).
To God’s wonderful and eternal plan, Eve said no, while Mary said yes. Eve “became the mother of all the living.” (Gen 3:20b). Mary became the mother of us all, who will live with her and with our God eternally in paradise.

At the end of it all, Eve returned to dirt (Gen 3:19), while Mary was raised incorrupt to heaven. Mary was immaculate when conceived, and incorrupt when received into heaven.

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