4. The Mother who carries within herself the Savior – the Ark of the Covenant (II Sam 6:1-2; 9-15)
God faithfully accompanies His people. He never tires of being present to them. In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant is the symbol of this presence of God in the midst of His People. This is a symbol which takes on concrete form in the New Testament with the true Ark of the Covenant – a person – the Virgin Mary. God has chosen Mary to be the new Ark carrying in her womb the Son of God-made-Man, Jesus our Savior.
For the people of Israel, the Ark was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel which was established on the basis of the Torah, the Law, and written on two stone tablets which were kept inside it. (II Chronicles 5:10) The Ark was the itinerant sanctuary in the desert and God's footstool, upon which He rested His feet. Within the Ark, two central motives of Israel's faith were intertwined: Word and Presence. God became present in His Word which, at the same time, became a personal encounter with His People. On the journey toward the Promised Land, the Ark assured the safety and honor of the people, thus revealing its Divine power, which was, however, accessible only to the priests. For this reason, Sacred Scripture presents to us a King David who is filled with both awe and fear before the sacred-destructive power of the Ark. (II Samuel 6:9) After the victory over the Philistines, he wanted to transport the Ark to Jerusalem to have it always near to him. Still, afraid of unleashing God's wrath, David let the Ark remain for three months in the home of Obed-Edom of Gat. Since during these three months, the Lord greatly blessed Obed-Edom and his family, David decided to have it brought to Jerusalem, amidst great joy. (II Samuel 6:15)
The French exegete, R. Laurentin, identifies a strong analogy between the accounts of the Ark’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem and that of Mary in the Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth: “Arise, get on your feet, and go." (II Samuel 6:2; Luke 1:39). Both accounts conclude with an explosion of joy (II Samuel 6:12-15; Luke 1:44); the Ark goes up to the City of David (II Samuel 6:12) just as Mary goes up the mountain to Zechariah's home (Luke 1:40). Beyond this, in both accounts we see two very similar exclamations: that of David before the Ark: "How can the Ark enter into my house?" (II Samuel 6:9) and that of Elizabeth before Mary: “How is it that the Mother of my Lord come to me?" (Luke 1:43) These two exclamations help us recognize the similarity between the Ark of the Covenant, the seat of God's Presence, and Mary, who, with Christ in her womb is the seat of the perfect Divine Presence in the midst of humanity. Mary welcomed Jesus inside her; she took into herself the living Word and all that God's will contains; she welcomed within her He who is the New and Eternal Covenant, culminating in the offering of His Most Sacred Body and Most Precious Blood in the Paschal Sacrifice.
Praying with the Word (II Sam 6:1-2 and 9-15)
1. I become aware of God's presence. I imagine that I am in the scene in the midst of the people who carry the Ark of the Covenant. I express to the Father my desire to recognize His Presence and action in my life, just as David and Mary did.
2. I invoke the help of the Holy Spirit by slowly repeating this (or another) prayer:
“Come, Holy Spirit, enter into the profundity of my being and make of me a place inhabited by the Word! Fill my eyes with Your light so that I may know how to recognize Your Presence and Your Work in my Sisters, in the young, and in all whom I encounter. Holy Spirit, render me the bearer of life and of hope, like Mary. Amen.”
3. I read II Sam 6:1-2 and 9-15 slowly and reflect a while on these three points:
- The journey – arise and go (vss. 1-2) David arises and goes so as to be with the Lord and he involves many others on his journey. Am I able to open myself up to go where the Lord awaits me?
- Presence and fear (vss. 9-11) Before the Presence of the Lord in the Ark, David felt fear. Elizabeth and Mary also asked themselves: How is it possible for God to be so near us? Have I ever felt fear at God's closeness? How do I approach His Presence: in the Word, in the Eucharist, and in my neighbor?
- Joy (vss. 12-15) The blessing of the Lord on Obed-Edom fills David with joy. Do I know how to rejoice at God's blessings-rich Presence in Mary, in me, and in he who stands beside me? Do I know how to be a blessing?
4. I finish this prayer with a heart-to-heart conversation with Mary: I express my sentiments, my joy, my gratitude, my doubts, and all my struggles to her as regard her and my being the Ark of God's Presence in the world.
After having concluded this prayer, I sit still and reflect a little: What has the Holy Spirit said to me through this prayer? Has He encouraged me? Has He invited me to conversion? How do I think I may correspond to the gift received in this prayer?