Ark of the Covenant…pray for us.
In the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the titles we apply to Our Lady is the “Ark of the Covenant.” This is a reference to the Old Testament Ark, which was the sacred vessel in which the Israelites carried their holiest and most treasured relics—the tablets of the Mosaic Law, the manna from Heaven, and the rod of Aaron.
In the second book of Samuel, we read about King David and the Ark. David had witnessed the awe-inspiring power of the Ark. He knew that the Lord—through its presence—could destroy Israel’s enemies and bring him victory. He had once seen God smite a man who violated the Ark. David knew that it was his responsibility, as king of Israel, to bring the Ark into his household and care for it, but he began to fear the Lord’s power:
David became frightened of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” —2 Samuel 6:9
But David came to realize that the Ark’s presence was a supreme blessing, since those who properly revered it were given a multitude of gifts from God. So he brought the Ark of the Covenant to the holy city of Jerusalem. As it arrived, he sang before it, danced, and even leaped!
This golden ark was but a prefigurement of Our Lady, the true Ark—created more perfect and beautiful than any ark made with hands. She contained within herself the Messiah, Who would give the final law as the new Moses; Who is the Bread of Life; Who is the great High Priest.
In the Gospel of Luke, we read about Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, who is carrying Christ’s herald, St. John the Baptist. What does Elizabeth say to Mary? A very similar thing to what David said:
“And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
St. John the Baptist leaps for joy in the presence of the Messiah, dwelling within the new Ark, Our Lady. Even as an unborn infant he is eager to begin his mission of announcing the advent of Christ!
“For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.” —Luke 1:44
Our Lady responds with her beautiful canticle of thanksgiving, the Magnificat, which mirrors the joyful song of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, when she rejoices in the birth of her son (1 Samuel 2:1-10).
The Magnificat itself deserves a far better treatment than we can give it here. Explore its beauty and meaning in Bishop Fulton Sheen’s classic Marian work The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God. In this inspiring book, Bishop Sheen presents a moving portrayal of Our Blessed Mother with his characteristic eloquence and profound spirituality, offering brilliant insights into all the major events and aspects of her life as well as the Marian dogmas. A perfect way to deepen your understanding of Our Lady and draw closer to her! Available today at The Catholic Company!