Mary and Eve: a new way of looking at Advent
Guest post by Molly Just
Last Christmas, I received this print – it’s one of the most profound pieces of religious art that I have ever seen. This picture was hand drawn by a sister at the Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in 2003. This drawing has been so well received over the last few years that the monastic community from which it comes has begun selling prints of it around Christmas time so that it might bless others. I have this print framed in my office and I meditate upon the truth of it often. I like this drawing because it beckons us to remember the whole gospel story – that even amidst our sin, Jesus came to the earth to die for us, with no motive at play other than love. As I’ve studied and contemplated this picture over the course of time, one of the things that I notice is that Eve has her arms going in two directions in the drawing. With one arm, she carries the fruit that she picked, that she wanted, for her own self-gain. With the other, she touches the “fruit” of Mary’s womb, the hope of her own redemption. How beautiful!
We often talk about Jesus as the “second Adam,” a Pauline understanding derived from 1 Corinthians 15. When we think of Jesus as the “second Adam” we begin to understand how these two men are inextricably linked together. However, I have to admit that prior to seeing this picture, I had never thought about how Eve and Mary are also connected. Interestingly enough, Eve’s first born-son, Cain, is the initial human to introduce physical death to the world when his uncontrollable anger and jealousy cause him to murder his brother, Abel. On the contrast, Mary’s first-born son, Jesus, reverses this curse of death by suffering at the hands of others. Instead of being the murderer, Mary’s son is the one who is killed. Just as Jesus and Adam are linked together, Eve and Mary’s lives are equally intertwined. When Eve disobeys, Mary obeys. Eve’s son brings death, Mary’s brings life. When Eve couldn’t resist the tempter in the garden, Mary crushes his head with her heel, for the fruit in her womb is the one who would defeat evil once and for all.
In this season of Advent, may our hearts understand the legitimacy of Eve’s mourning, for we know the story of disobedience all too well. However, may we also rejoice in Mary’s “yes” and anticipate the blessing that she carries – our Savior! How beautiful that Eve, in this picture, is one of the first ones to receive tidings of comfort and joy. Where there seems to be no way, God makes a way.
“My mother, my daughter, life-giving Eve
Do not be ashamed, do not grieve.
The former things have passed away
Our God has brought to us a New Day.
See, I am with Child, through whom all will be reconciled.
O, Eve! My sister, my friend
We will rejoice together, forever
Life without end.”
Molly Just is the director of the Discipleship program at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, and is a provisional elder in the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church. You may purchase your own copy of the print above at www.monasterycandy.com.