SMYTH: Mary as the Ark of the Covenant

May 14, 2019

Do you ever feel like you don’t understand why God is allowing certain things to happen in your life?

Many Christians feel this way when they experience things that seem to be random or even harmful. Often the experience is accompanied by the question, “Why are my prayers for blessing not being answered?”

May is the month of Mary, and in times of doubt or anguish, I always find consolation in her life and example. Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant. This title of Our Lady reminds me of the Lord’s steadfast love and enduring plan.

In the book of Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant held extreme importance. The Ark was central to the worship of God. In Exodus 25, God gives detailed instruction for the ark’s construction. The Ark carried within it the tablets with the 10 Commandments, some manna and the rod of Aaron. The top of the Ark was adorned with two angels whose wings created the mercy seat where God told Moses he would meet him and speak with him.

So, too, was Mary thoughtfully and carefully created as she was to be the immaculate dwelling place for Jesus. Mary carried within her Jesus the great High Priest, just as the Ark carried the rod of Aaron symbolizing the high priesthood. The jar of manna was placed inside the Ark as the gift that God sent every day to feed the Israelites as they traveled through the desert. Jesus is the Bread of Life who nourishes us with His very self. The tablets symbolized the law God gave to the Israelites and Jesus is the fulfillment of the law.

The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament was overshadowed by the cloud of glory that led the Israelites through the desert just as the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary when she conceived Jesus. In 2 Samuel 6:14 David danced before the Ark of the Covenant as it came into Jerusalem.

hat same word used to describe David is the word used in the Gospel of Luke to describe John the Baptist “leap” in his mother’s womb when Mary came to visit Elizabeth.

As we see all of these parallels between the Ark in the Old Testament with Mary in the New Testament, we can’t help but marvel at the grand plan and design of God.

It’s easy to forget Isaiah 55:8-9 where the Lord says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” When those questions about whether God hears my prayers arise in my own heart, I look to Mary as Ark of the Covenant and remember that God is faithful. I choose to trust because Mary’s continual yes to the Lord despite the circumstances made this masterpiece of salvation possible. May we always strive to say yes to God believing that His plan for our life is more significant than the little we can see. 

Rachel Smyth is the director of Youth Evangelization and Catechesis at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church.