The Old Testament And Mary, The Mother Of The Messiah 

by History of the Church, Mary - The Blessed Mother

On the path that led to the Old Testament 

Although I am now a joyfully practicing Catholic, for nearly thirty years of my adult life, I lived as an evangelical Protestant.  It was during those years that love of Scripture became the engine of my spiritual life.  I learned how powerfully God speaks to his children through his Word.  I understood the need always and everywhere to submit my life to the truth he spoke in its pages.  It was ultimately the truth I saw in Scripture about the Church Jesus intended to build that led me to become a Catholic.

When my new Catholic friends discovered my background, they begged me to teach them the Bible.  I was reluctant.  I told them, “I am a new Catholic.  I come to the Church as a beggar, with open, empty arms.”  They replied, “No, your arms aren’t completely empty.  You know the Scripture better than we do.  Please share what you know with us.”  How could I say no to that?

 A new beginning “In the Beginning”

I began my teaching in the Book of Genesis.  The people in my bible studies were delighted to discover that all the teachings of the Church rise up out of the Scripture.  The Bible is very much a Catholic book!  Little did they know how all those years of teaching the Scripture as a Catholic were turning my life inside out in a most wonderful way.  How did that happen?

I spent the bulk of my teaching on the Old Testament, because Catholics are generally less familiar with it.  That gave me a deeper understanding of what the Church teaches about the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “the New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old.  Early catechesis makes constant use of the Old Testament.  As an old saying puts it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old is unveiled in the New” (CCC 489).  Everything foundational about Catholic life appears first in the Old Testament, if only we have eyes to see it, and that, not surprisingly, includes the role of Mary, Mother of the Messiah.

Mary: The promised Mother/Warrior of Genesis

Catholics might be familiar with God’s promise at the time of the Fall, recorded in the early chapters of Genesis.  Although the first man and woman he created fell victim to his enemy’s hatred, God’s intention for man and woman to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gn 1:28) was not thwarted.  He promised to send another man and woman, a Mother and Son, to victoriously finish the battle begun in Eden (see Gn 3:15).  There it is, right there, our first whisper of Mary—the Mother/Warrior who would help her Son in a mission to restore all that was lost through our first parents’ disobedience.  As God’s allies, the new Mother and Son would be full of Divine life as Adam and Eve had once been.  All Creation would have to wait with eager longing for their appearance.

Hints and Whispers

The story of that wait, which took many ages of time, is full of hints and whispers of the Mother and Son who would fulfill God’s promise.  We call these fortellings “types” in the Old Testament—people or events that  in various ways foreshadow what lies ahead in the New Testament.  Discovering these hints and whispers is what makes studying the Old Testament so thrilling.  For me, a convert, one of the biggest thrills was finding whispers of Mary, the promised Mother/Warrior, in the lives of so many women in the Old Testament.  As the Church teaches, “The mission of many women in the Old Testament prepared for that of Mary” (CCC 480; emphasis added). Surely Our Lady was nourished all her life on these stories.

Several years ago, I taught a Bible study on women of the Old Testament.  In addition to rich life lessons for all of us who want to walk with God, each woman also “whispered” to us of Mary.  By the study’s end, the women in our group insisted I should write down in a book what we discovered so they could read and reread it.  Unable to resist their enthusiasm, that is what I did.

Whispers of Mary

The book is called Whispers of Mary: What Twelve Old Testament Women Teach Us About Mary.  It records the stories of women who walked courageously with God in all the eras of salvation history.  Their lives also foreshadowed the Mother/Warrior who would give birth to the Messiah.  If we follow the types of Jesus and Mary throughout the Old Testament, at the Annunciation we will want to exclaim, “Here at last is bone of our bones, and flesh of our flesh.  The Mother and Son are here to rescue us!” 

Whispers of Mary Old Testament
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