The Angelic Annunciation and the New Eve

Saint Paul clearly tells us that Christ’s sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection has undone what Adam’s disobedience has caused. The Apostle tells his audience at Rome, “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (5:12) When he discusses Christ’s saving work, he elaborates and explains:

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (5:18-19)

To summarize, St. Paul tells the Corinthians, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (I Corinthians 15:22)

There is yet another facet to the parallels between Adam and Jesus, an aspect of the life of Our Savior which St. Paul strangely neglects. There is another aspect of the story which has a striking symmetry to it. One might create this corollary to St. Paul’s statement, “For as through Eve did Adam cause all men to die, even so through Mary does Christ give life to all men.”

Remember, of course, that it was Eve who first ate of the forbidden fruit and then gave it to her husband. Why Eve escapes St. Paul’s scorn is unknown. Skip a few thousand years forward and another woman becomes involved in the salvation story. This time the Angel Gabriel comes to a virgin in the town of Galilee whose name is Mary. The Angel tells her that, though she has never “known a man,” that she will conceive and bear a child and that child will be the long awaited Messiah. (St. Luke 1:26-33) The Virgin Mary is rightfully confused and reasonably asks how this could be. The Angel responds by saying, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (v. 35)

At this point, the Virgin Mary could have done a great many things. She could have disbelieved the angelic annunciation as did the husband of her kinswoman Elizabeth (St. Luke 1:20). She could have run screaming from the angel. She could have—God forbid—tried to abort the baby in order to preserve her reputation (and even her life). But the Virgin Mary did none of these things. After considering this angelic message for only a moment, she answered, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (v. 38) In effect, she said, “I am at your service. Do to me as you have said.” She consented. There is no evidence in Scripture that says she had to do so. Her reputation was ruined. Her marriage would likely be annulled. They still stoned women for being pregnant outside of marriage. She could have been killed and Mary knew all of that. Nevertheless, she consented.

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s act of obedience made it possible for the birth of Christ. The birth of Christ made it possible, years later, for Jesus to be “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8) In effect, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s obedience made Christ’s obedience possible. There are those who detract from the Blessed Virgin Mary and say that God could have used any virgin to carry the pre-born Jesus. That may be true, but He did not. He chose the Blessed Virgin Mary and her obedience opened the door for her Son’s obedience, which would ultimately overthrow sin and death. Is the Blessed Virgin Mary a “co-redemptorix with Christ”? Absolutely not! Is the Blessed Virgin Mary the New Eve who began the reversal of the process which her counterpart began? Yes, she is. The obedience of one young girl started the undoing, the reversal of sin. Perhaps that is why she is the most celebrated woman in all of Christianity.

Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord; that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


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