The Old Testament, Mary's path

The Old Testament: the time when humanity is prepared for the coming of Christ in Mary’s womb

The Old Testament is not merely a series of events foreshadowing the coming of Christ that becomes clear after the Good News. Above all, it is the history of the preparation of humanity for Christ’s coming, where man’s free will is constantly tested by the will of God.

The Old Testament tells of Noah’s obedience, Abraham’s sacrifice, the exodus of God’s people led by Moses across the desert, the prophets, and a succession of events ordained by God that sometimes led mankind to remain faithful to their promises, at other times to falter and suffer punishment (captivity, destruction of the first temple). The whole sacred tradition of the Jews is the history of the slow and laborious progress of fallen humanity towards ‘long-promised fulfilment’  when the angel is sent to announce to the chosen Virgin that God is to be made Man and to receive from her lips human consent for the fulfilment of the divine plan of salvation.

“The name of the Mother of God embraces the whole history of divine economy in the world.”

Furthermore, according to the words of Saint John Damascene, “the name of the Mother of God embraces all the history of divine economy in the world” (De Fide Orth. III). This divine economy, that prepares mankind’s condition for the Incarnation of the Son of God is not a one-sided phenomenon—this is not divine will sweeping away the history of humanity. Through His divine economy of salvation, God’s Wisdom responds to the ebb and flow of the human will, following man’s response to divine calling. This is how, across the generations of the righteous of the Old Testament, it builds its home—the spotless nature of the Holy Virgin—through whom the Word of God becomes flesh. Mary’s reply to the archangel’s tidings: You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said (Lk 1: 38) resolves the tragedy of fallen man. All that God demanded of man’s free will after the fall is fulfilled. Now the Redemptive work, that the Word made flesh alone can accomplish, can take place.

Mary is the finest flower of sainthood in the Old Testament, yet so much more...

... Like others such as John the Baptist whose conception and birth the Church also celebrates, the Holy Virgin—born under the law of original sin—shares with us all the same common responsibility for the fall. But sin could never gain a hold on her; the sinful legacy of the fall held no sway over her unswerving will. She represents the highest point of saintliness that could ever be achieved before the coming of Christ by a descendant of Adam against the background of the Old Testament.

She was without sin in a world under the domination of sin, untainted by temptation among men enslaved by the prince of this world. She was not placed beyond the tide of human history in order to serve God’s particular purpose, but she played out her unique role within the events of history, in the common destiny of all men waiting to be saved. And yet, if we see in the person of the mother of God the height of Old Testament saintliness, she has still not yet reached the limits of that sainthood, because she shall also exceed the highest levels of saintliness in the New Covenant, achieving the most sublime heights of sainthood that the Church can attain.


Excerpt from: V. Lossky, In the Image and Likeness of God, (À l’Image et à la ressemblance de Dieu) Aubier-Montagne, 1967