Today we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary in a particularly reverent way as it is the feast day of The Most Holy Name of Mary. On this day we are reminded of the importance to pray for Mary’s magnificent intercession to deepen our love of the Risen Lord Jesus and His holy will.1
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “[w]e venerate the name of Mary because it belongs to her who is the Mother of God, the holiest of creatures, the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Mercy… [This] feast commemorates all the privileges given to Mary by God and all the graces we have received through her intercession and mediation.”2
Indeed, when we consider how God calls all people everywhere to eternal salvation it is indeed marvelous to contemplate the role Mary plays in this. And to help us grasp this role, it is necessary that we begin with Jesus.3
We know that Jesus is true God and true man, divinity and humanity wedded together in one Person, and is through Him that we find our salvation. There are many ways the Scriptures highlight this saving truth and one of them is how He is portrayed as the second Adam, or the New Adam. For instance, the Book of Genesis explains how God created the original Adam and Eve and how their rejection of Him brought about death for humanity and devastation to creation (see chapters 2 and 3).
But all was not lost, however, for as St. Paul explains, Jesus “Christ has been raised from the dead…[f]or as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:20-22).
So, salvation through Jesus, the New Adam, involves undoing the negative effects of the fall of Adam and Eve. And just as Jesus is the New Adam, so is Mary the new Eve.4
The Book of Genesis describes how the evil serpent tempted Eve to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve listened to the serpent as she perceived this fruit to be good for food, that it was attractive, and that it would apparently make one wise. Eve then ate some of the fruit and gave some to Adam and, in doing so, said “no” to God through her actions (3:1-6). There it is! Original sin with all its many destructive effects, as it damages human beings’ relationship with God, with each other, and with creation.5
But chapter 1 of Luke’s Gospel account describes how, generations later, the angel Gabriel visits a young woman named Mary and tells her that she is full of grace and that the Lord is with her. Gabriel tells Mary that she will conceive and bear a son she will name Jesus and that He will be the Son of God whose kingdom will have no end. Mary wonders how this can be since she is a virgin but she is told that she will conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit. And to this Mary says “yes” to God, averring “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk1:38).
So, Mary’s “yes” to God and His plan for salvation reverses Eve’s “no” to God’s teachings; Mary’s embrace of God’s grace overshadows Eve’s rejection of God’s grace.6 As St. Irenaeus explained well over 1,500 years ago, “[t]he knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” 7 Indeed, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the New Eve, and a much more exalted one at that!
Mary’s status as the New Eve becomes even clearer when we consider a passage from John’s Gospel account pertaining to the crucifixion of Jesus. Just prior to Our Lord’s death, He looked at Mary and the beloved disciple and “…said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then [H]e said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’” (19:26-27a).
In Genesis we read that Adam named his wife Eve “because she was the mother of all the living” (3:20). But when Jesus told Mary that the beloved disciple was her son and the beloved disciple that Mary was his mother, He declared Mary the spiritual mother of all of humanity. 8 Let us find heavenly comfort in the spiritual embrace of our mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary! The fall of Eve and Adam brought about disorder and chaos but the graces Mary obtains for us bring about order and tranquility.
As Catholic-Christians we know the importance of petitioning the communio sanctorum, the Communion of Saints, as these exalted holy ones love to assist us with their intercessory prayers. This is wonderfully described in the Letter to the Hebrews, which explains that “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” (12:1-2a).
Indeed, the saints in heaven form a “great cloud of witnesses” who “cheer us on” by interceding for us as we run the race to win the greatest prize of all – eternal salvation! 9 And of all the saints cheering us on, none is more exalted than the Blessed Virgin Mary. No saints’ cheers are louder, no saints’ prayers are more efficacious, than those of Mary. She is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and our spiritual mother.
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary: Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ!
1 Source: https://www.omvusa.org/blog/celebrate-most-holy-name-of-mary/ (Retrieved September 3, 2022).
3 Brant Pitre. Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary: Unveiling the Mother of the Messiah (2018): Crown Publishing Group, p. 14.
4 Ibid., pp. 15-16.
5 Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/6-biblical-reasons-mary-new-eve-deacon-mike-chesley (Retrieved September 5, 2022).
7 Catechism of the Catholic Church. 494.
8 Ignatian Catholic Study Bible – New Testament, p. 198.
9 Ibid., p. 433.