The Road to Ephesus Part I

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“If it be true that none but a saint can rightly understand or describe the life of a saint; nay, if the very highest human intelligence is too weak, and human language too imperfect, to enable us to conceive and express the visions and ecstasies, the raptures of Divine love and the intimate communion with God which are often vouchsafed to humble and loving souls that serve God faithfully, who could hope to penetrate the secrets of that most close and perfect communion which ever existed between the Hearts of Jesus and Mary? What imagination could picture to itself the Divine colloquies and the sublime interchanges of love and confidence which must needs have passed between one and the other during so many years of the closest intercourse, ever tending to make the Mother more and more “conformable to the image of Her Son” (Rom. 8: 29), until at length She could exclaim even more truly and literally than St. Paul, “I am nailed to the Cross with Christ; and I live; now not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2: 20). “ James Spencer Northcote 

Miriam (Mary), mother of Yeshua and co-equal with Christ as divine co-redeemer, lived her gospel narrative forward out of her crucifixion and tomb experience. She is transformed by it all and emerges both a bearer and symbol of G*d’s renewed Creation. Her unique and special character and presence at Calvary and her union with Yeshua’s suffering and violent death provide a very particular sharing on her part in the mystery of the Resurrection. This is very important as the transformation of the women disciples who stay, and first re-cog-nize the empty tomb corresponds with an intentional valuing of their worth as persons and apostles. This place value emphasizes the inclusive and transformative message of Christ. Yeshua’s mother, an ordinary woman acts with uncommon faithfulness reminding us that it is not who she is but what she does that illuminates her transforming faith. The tromos kai ekstasis (trembling and ecstasy) that impel her out of the empty tomb exemplify her awe at the spiritual perception of what she witnesses. She is a participant in divine Wisdom’s community, an ongoing, inclusive community whose meaning reveals the ‘dynamism of divine Wisdom’ as a perpetually unfolding mystery. Surely her life is an example of spiritual understanding, moral strength, unwavering faith a commitment to the word and assisting others.

After the Easter story we find Mary mentioned only one more time. The book of Acts says that she joined the other disciples in an upper room for prayer on the Day of Pentecost “They all joined constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14) After that, Mary disappears from scripture. The assumption of most biblical scholars is that she lived out her life in the company of the disciples and eventually died of old age. So, little is really known for certain about Mary’s post Pentecostal life-only the speculative writings of men some 300 years later. In Pope Pius XII affirmed the tradition that Mary died between three and fifteen years after Christ’s ascension into heaven (Acts 1.9-10); and, St. Juvenal, the Bishop of Jerusalem, asserted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 that Mary had died in the presence of all the Apostles.

And so it is that imaginative consideration of what unfolded for Mary as an aging, transformed woman of faith emerges. She is purported to have lived for three years on Mount Zion, for three years in Bethany, and for nine years in Ephesus. In the New Testament, Zion refers to God’s spiritual kingdom. ‘It is the most holy place in the world for Jews, seen as the connection between God and humanity.’ Bethany means house of figs a symbol of Endtime abundance and as a location is a reminder of Yeshua’s entrance into Jerusalem. Ephesus means the desired one and is a place where many Jews migrated after Pentecost. It figures largely in the spread of Christianity and apostolic travel and activity. Could it be that these locations parallel Mary’s healing, her life story as gospel narrative, her pistikos (bearer of the oil of faith)? Did she not sustain, support and deepen the faith of all of the apostles – men and women -spreading faith through community? Is not her road to Ephesus her gospel narrative? “Her union was so intimate that it knew no interruption… She who at the foot of the Cross did not for a moment cease to recognize God in Him Who hung thereon, had no need to see to believe; Her faith depended not upon sight…” James Spencer Northcote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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