Mary, Fully Graced: Flesh of My Flesh

The Bible makes sort of a big deal about flesh, and lineage, and all of that. I mean, Jesus’ lineage is considered a big deal by the Evangelists in telling His Nativity (Mathew 1:1-16), as well as the opening of His public ministry (Luke 3:23-38 – I’m gonna admit: this was a strange place to include this information). Jesus calls Simon, “Simon bar-Jonah” (Simon, son of John) when He establishes the Church on him (Matthew 16:17).

Flesh gets an even bigger emphasis. The entire Atonement (Hebrews 10:10), as well as the Eucharist (John 6:53-54; Matthew 26:26), as well as the Incarnation (John 1:14) – they’re all built off of this idea of Jesus’ flesh. But that’s not the only place we hear of flesh in the Bible. Perhaps the most important verse dealing with this idea is Genesis 2:23:

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

This is, in some way, the precursor to the Atonement, as Hebrews 2:14-15 makes clear. Now consider this. You are a merger, so to speak, of your parents. You’re a unique mix of their genetic material, and maybe you have your mom’s eyes and your dad’s cheekbones. Jesus has no earthly Father, as Luke 1:34-35 makes clear, and as was prophesied by Isaiah 7:14.

So this means that He was bone of Mary’s bones, and Flesh of Mary’s flesh. The very Flesh that died upon the Cross, atoning the world of sins was 100% Mary’s flesh. The Flesh of the Eucharist, Mary’s flesh. What I mean here is not that Mary’s flesh on its own was sufficient. John 6:63 says that the flesh “avails nothing,” absent the Spirit. So Mary’s flesh had to be joined with the Holy Spirit in the Incarnation (Luke 1:34-35, again) to bring about our salvation. But nevertheless! To be the woman whose flesh was chosen to redeem the world! What a shocking gift!

There’s another element to this, too. The reason for the Virgin Birth was not just to show that Jesus was Someone special (after all, it’d be almost impossible to prove). The main reason was because Christ is the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). He’s setting the clock back on Eden, and reversing the Fall. So by being drawn from the flesh of Mary alone, He’s symbolically undoing the sin of Adam and Eve.

Note what Adam calls Eve: “Woman.” Now note what Jesus calls Mary in John 2, at the start of His journey (John 2:4), and on the Cross, at the end of His journey (John 19:26). “Dear Woman.” She’s Eve, but with a spin. She’s a highly Graced Eve, an unfallen Eve. In Irenaeus’ second-century book Against Heresies:

For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain (portaret) God, being obedient to His word. And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness (advocata) of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. For in the same way the sin of the first created man (protoplasti) receives amendment by the correction of the First-begotten, and the coming of the serpent is conquered by the harmlessness of the dove, those bonds being unloosed by which we had been fast bound to death.

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