Paul on Paul – 15th August 2021

Feast of the Assumption of Mary (Year B)
1 Corinthians 15:20-26

But Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death, for everything is to be put under his feet.

For the first time while I have been preparing these reflections, this is a passage from St. Paul that I have considered before, also, funnily enough, on a Feast of the Church. But the liturgical context of each reading is so different that it helps show us one of the wonderful parts of Scripture – that depending on how and when we sit down to read scripture, we can draw different meanings from it.

The last time we examined this passage, the focus was on the all-encumbassing natured of Christ’s lordship and rule, and that is, perhaps, the most apparent of this reading. But today, we don’t seek to draw that from this reading. This Sunday’s first reading from Revelation (or Book of the Apocolypse) is the Vision of the Woman in Heaven; the Gospel is Mary’s Visitation to Elixabeth and the Magnificat. How, then, does such a Chrstio-centri 2nd Reading help us understand these better…or is that the point?

The key to this, I would suggest is right at the start of this passage: Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ“. Christ’s presentation of ‘The New Adam’ is explicit and clear. But then, we might ask, if there is a New Adam, could there be a New Eve, and what woudl her role be? IN the Old Testement, Eve was Adam’s Wife – but if Christ never married surely there cannot be a New Eve?

Well what was the role of the Old Eve – it was not Eve’s disobedience, particularly, that led humanity into Original Sin, but Adam’s – but Eve was certainly an ‘accomplice’ in that Sin. She recieved as much of God’s reproach in Genisis as Adam did. So if Sin enters through Adam, and is defeated theough the New Adam; then if Old Eve assisted the Old Adam, the New Eve assists the New Adam – and who actively assists Christ more than his own mother?

It was Mary – not any of the disciples – who told the people at the Wedding at Cana to listen to Christ and do what He tells them, which is the very beginning of Jesus’s earthly ministry. And Mary was there, at the Foot of the Cross, next to John, at the end of that Ministry where Christ told the him (and, then, the Church) to “behold our Mother”.

And when viewed like this – we can see the centrality of Mary’s role as a ‘New Eve’, a companion to the ‘New Adam’ St. Paul writes of today. Just as Mary led the waiters and deciples to Chirst, and just as Mary was the way Chirst entered the world; so she can be that to both the Church generally, and to each of us, personally. She is the one who not only allowed Salvation to take place, but the one who can also help lead us to it.

We must be careful as Catholics – as so many of our Protestant brothers and sisters believe we do – never to ascribe to Mary what is owed to God alone. We must never ‘Worship’ her as God – because, she is not God…simply the most amazing human to have ever lived.

This part is perhaps slightly beyond the remit of “2nd Reading reflection”, but I felt it too on-point not to share. The Youtube video below is part of of a 6 part series of a Protestant and Cahtolic talking about what is similar and different about the different traditions, and, of course, in part 4 the place and undertsanding of Mary features quite heavily.
I’d encourage you, if you have the time, to watch it all – but what I thought was appropriate today was the secion on Mary (from the 12 minute mark in the video below). At around the 26-minute mark, the Catholic mentions this weekend’s 1st reading – where Satan is Identified, where it’s obvious who the Baby mentioned is, and that, while the Woman who gives birth to the baby isn’t named, it’s obvious to Catholics who that is – AND IT BLOWS THE PROTESTANT’S MIND. I remember when I first watched this video and was amazed that someone didn’t immediately see Mary there. But it shows us jsut how lucky we are to hold Mary so closely to us.

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