Mary, the Mother of God, carried within Her womb the Son of God. The early Church Fathers called Mary the Ark of the New Covenant. Perhaps you’ve heard that title before. Let’s unpack what this means and how scripture clearly points to it.
Ark of the Old Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant was a box made of acacia wood and covered with gold. On the lid of the ark were figures of angels that formed what was known as the mercy seat where the presence of God rested. “It was really what was inside the ark that made it very special to the Israelites. There was a jar of the manna, the miracle bread from heaven that God used to feed him people during their wilderness journey. There was also the priestly staff of Aaron, the high priest. And then there was the tablets of the law—the old covenant, the Ten Commandments—the world of God written in stone,” explained Cale Clarke, host of The Faith Explained on Relevant Radio.
Ark of the New Covenant
So how can we say that the Virgin Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant? “She contains in Her body not the Word of God on stone tablets, but the Word made flesh, a person, Jesus Christ. She has living within Her the true manna, the true Living Bread that came down from heaven,” said Cale.
In John 6, Jesus tells us He is the Bread of Life, Living Bread that will feed us and sustain us on our journey through the wilderness of life. And just as the old ark contained the staff of Aaron the high priest, the womb of our Blessed Mother held the true High Priest, the Christ, the Son of God.
Cale draws parallels between what happens with David in 2 Samuel 6 and what happens with Mary in Luke 1. In 2 Samuel 6, we see King David bringing the ark back to Jerusalem.
“Then David came dancing before the LORD with abandon, girt with a linen ephod. David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts of joy and sound of horn.” – 2 Samuel 6:14-15
How does this compare to Mary? Look no further than the Visitation.
“So just as David brought the ark to the hill country of Judea, … Mary goes to Elizabeth’s house in the hill country and what does Elizabeth say to her? ‘Why is this privilege granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ And that’s exactly what David said. He said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord come to me?’” explained Cale.
Furthermore, when Mary comes to Elizabeth, she says that the baby in her womb leaped for joy. Sounds a lot like David, dancing with joy before the Lord.
“Today the holy Virgin of Virgins is presented in the heavenly temple. … Today the sacred and living ark of the living God, who conceived her Creator Himself, takes up her abode in the temple of God, not made by hands. David, her forefather, rejoices.” – St. John Damascene, homily on the Assumption of Mary
For a more thorough analysis of the scripture, listen to the segment with Cale Clarke:
Tune in to The Faith Explained with Cale Clarke weekdays at 12:30-1pm CT only on Relevant Radio®.