EXEGESIS -- ANNUNCIATION AND INCARNATION (CONT.)
"Because the devil deceived Eve of old, therefore to Mary who was a Virgin did Gabriel bring the happy news. Eve being deceived brought forth the word that caused death; but Mary on receiving the blessed tidings gave birth to the Word made flesh who gained for us eternal life. The speech of Eve showed the tree, whereby she banished Adam from paradise. But the Word that came forth from the Virgin showed the Cross, whereby she brought the thief in Adam's stead to paradise."*
"When as His Mother Mary was espoused to Joseph." -- Matt. i. 18.
"Why is He conceived not of a simple Virgin," asks S. Jerome, "but of one espoused? First, that by means of the genealogy of Joseph might be shown the origin of Mary. Secondly, least she should be stoned by the Jews as an adulteress. Thirdly, that in her flight to Egypt, she might have the solace of a husband. Ignatius, the Martyr, added also a fourth reason, why He was conceived of one espoused; that His birth, he says, might be concealed from the devil, by his supposing Him to be the offspring not of a virgin, but of a wife, and, therefore, that He was not the true Messiah foretold by the Prophets."
It seems, however, that S. Jerome here does not quote directly from S. Ignatius, but from Origen; for we cannot find any such express statement in the writings of that Saint, though it may, in some sense, be gathered from his Epistle to the Ephesians.+
The following is the passage of Origen: --
"Hence it is admirably said, as I have found in the Epistle of a certain martyr, I mean Ignatius, the second bishop of Antioch after Peter, who, in the persecution, fought with beasts at Rome. The virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world. It was hidden by reason of Joseph. It was hidden by reason of the nuptials. It was hidden, because she was supposed to have a husband. For, if she had not had a spouse, and, as was supposed, a husband, it could not, by any means, have been concealed from the prince of this world. For, at once, the devil's silent thought would have stealthily crept along: How is she, who has not known man, pregnant? This conception must be divine, it must be something more sublime than human nature.
* Hom. in Natal. Christi diem. This Homily though ranked amongst the Opera dubia of S. Chrysostom is, says Montfaucon, most certainly of that holy doctor's age, since S. Cyril in his book, Ad Reginas, which is also found amongst the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, quoted from it, and among other passages, much of what we have here cited.
+ His words are: "Now the virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world, as was also her offspring, and the death of the Lord; three mysteries of renown (krauges, shout), which were wrought in silence and have been revealed to us." -- c. xix.