73
EXEGESIS - GENESIS.

"The devil by speaking through the serpent to Eve, through the ears of Eve brought death into the world. God, by the Angel, made known His word to Mary, and upon all ages shed forth life: the Angel cast the word, and the Virgin conceived Christ... Mary was made the restoration of women, for through her are they shown to be withdrawn from the ruin of the primeval malediction. For, in fact, the three evils of Eve are clearly done away with by the three goods of Mary. Since to Eve was it said: In sorrows and in sadness shalt thou bring forth, and thy desire shall be to thy husband (et ad virum conversio tua), and he shall have the rule over thee. To these three evils, therefore, women who do not follow Mary subject themselves, to sorrow, sadness, and servitude. but with what most glorious three goods Mary is exalted, listen: the angelic salutation, the divine benediction, and the fulness of grace. For we read that the Angel saluted her: Hail, Mary, full of grace, blessed art thou amongst women. In saying Hail, he offered to her heavenly salutation: in saying Full of grace, he implied that the wrath of the primeval sentence was now completely (ex integro) taken away, and the full grace of benediction restored: in saying Blessed art thou amongst women, he showed forth the blessed fruit of her virginity. Blessed art thou amongst women; for cursed had been Eve, who now we believe, through Mary has returned to the glory of benediction... But why was it that our God thus willed to form us anew to life by being born of a Virgin? It was, that, since through a woman death entered into the world, salvation might be restored through a Virgin."*

"Since God had said to Eve, in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, therefore, to the Virgin the Angel announces joy, whereby the sorrow decreed of old may be loosed, saying, Hail, full of grace."+

"On account of her sin the woman was sentenced to sadness, sorrow, and subjection, until in His goodness Christ born of a woman, took away the curse. And since one under guilt (upaitia ousa) could not bring forth the Innocent (tou aneuthunon), the angel hastened at once to do away with sorrow by joy, thus favourably beginning his speech by the Ave; and straightway suggested the cause of joy: the Lord is with thee. For Mary was, in fact, the image of Eve, since each of them was a virgin; but Eve, whilst yet in virginity sinned, and therefore from the serpent derived sadness and sorrows, which she thenceforth transmitted to all women as sinners. But Mary received joy from God, and chased away the curse from our race; and her childbirth that knew no sorrow, put an end to that which takes place in sadness and grief.++

"Mary so far excelled all others that she received of His own will God, the Word Himself, whom she compassed without any straitness of space. And to her at once the Archangel Gabriel first cried out: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Gabriel's happy tidings were soon to her the beginning of joy. For whereas the first virgin was hemmed in with troubles inflicted by the sentence of condemnation on account of her transgression, so that from her come so many groans, and by reason of her every woman has her lot in sorrow, and on her account every childbirth suffers bitterness; the Second Virgin, through the angelic salutation has banished all the misery of the female sex, and has closed up the entire source of sadness that is wont to be present in giving birth, and has dissipated the cloud of despondence with which women are oppressed in childbirth, and caused the light of gladness to shine in families."**


* Serm. 123, In Nat. Dom. vii. nn. 1, 2, 3, Int. Opp. S. Augustin.

+ Comment. in Luc. i. 28, Int. Opp. Tit. Bostrens.

++ Procopius Gazaeus, Comm. in Gen. iii., Ap. Mai., Class. auct., T. vi., pp. 193-4.

** Hesychius, Orat. de Virg. laudib. "On the words of S. Paul, 1 Tim. ii. 15. Yet she shall be saved through child-bearing, Theophylact says, that some understand through child-bearing (dia tes teknogonias) to mean the child-bearing of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which effected women's salvation: for she gave birth to Christ, and in Him to many Christian sons and daughters." Cornel. a Lap., in loc.

It is doubtless, with allusion to the regeneration of infants by the grace of baptism, for which the Blessed Virgin has thus so greatly co-operated, that S. Cyril of Alexandria says: "Hail, Mary, Mother of God, through whom John and the Jordan are sanctified, and the devil is cast out, Hail, Mary, Mother of God, through whom every faithful soul is saved." Encom. in Deip., Opp. T. v. P. ii. p. 381.

 

 

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