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Store of Benefits

WEEKLY WEDNESDAY REFLECTION ON OUR LADY

There is a hymn in the Chaldean Church during the season of the Apostles that says something very peculiar about our Lady. While praying the Martyr Hymns at the end of Tuesday Evening Prayer (ramsha), the Church chants: “Your holy body, O Mary, is our store of benefits, and, through its many graces, you enrich our poverty” (Emmanuel, 97). To have a proper understanding of this hymn, we must first understand why the Church emphasizes so much the body of Mary. If our faith is spiritual, why do we stress the body?

God’s will is that we, as persons, are saved. Human beings are body and soul by nature, not simply spirits. Therefore, when God rolls out his plan of salvation, he will do it in a bodily and spiritual manner. Thus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). God himself took a full human nature, which includes a body. He did not, however, become a man abstractly, but he was “born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). God became man, and from a woman he took his flesh; that is, the flesh of this woman will provide for the flesh of the Son of God. Mary, then, is also perfect, for God will form his perfect flesh from hers.

In this way, Mary is like the primordial humans, Adam and Eve, who were perfect before they ate of the forbidden fruit. Our bodies are stained by the original sin of Adam, but Mary was saved from sin, and even this sin, so that her birth is perfect and sinless. The Church calls this dogma the Immaculate Conception; that is, her conception was perfect, unstained by sin. It is from this perfect body that the Son of God took his perfect body.

Mary’s body, then, is perfect like the perfect body that Adam and Eve had, it is now glorified like the glorified body that Christ has, and it is the image of the glorified body that the Church and all her members will have in the Resurrection. She reflects the perfection of humanity and, by God’s good grace, meets its potential fully. For these reasons, then, we can sing with the Church that Mary’s body is our store of benefits, and that we are enriched through its many graces.