Homily July 8th, 2023

Mary as Antitype

In the first reading, we heard the story of Jacob and Esau and how, with the help of his mother Rebekah, Jacob was able to receive the blessing meant for Esau. In the Old Testament, we find a lot of people who serve as models or examples of people who are to come. For instance, we say that Isaac foreshadows or anticipates Jesus, because Isaac went to be sacrificed. Likewise, we say that Moses foreshadows Jesus, because, just as Moses led the chosen people out from slavery in Egypt to the promised land, so Jesus led us out of slavery to death and sin to enter the promised land of heaven.

This is also true of Mary: there are a lot of women in the Old Testament who foreshadow her. Often we call Mary the new Eve, because just as sin entered the world through Eve, salvation from sin entered through Mary. However, the saints and the doctors of the Church have also compared Mary to at least three other women in the Old Testament, and, in each comparison, we can learn about Mary’s love for us and the works she undertakes on our behalf. We can consider Mary as foreshadowed by Rebecca, Abigail, and Esther.

In the Old Testament, Rebecca was the wife of Isaac, and the mother of Esau and Jacob. She wanted her son Jacob to receive his father’s blessing, a blessing that should’ve gone to Esau, the firstborn. So, when Esau went out, Rebecca had Jacob bring two lambs from his flock, prepared them for Isaac, and had Jacob bring it to his father. In the same way, says a saint, Mary tells the angels to go find sinners, and she prepares them through sorrow for their sins, so that they can be presented as pleasing to God the Father. Saint Louis de Montfort goes further, saying that Mary looks out for occasions to help her children, gives them good advice, and clothes them in order to make them acceptable to the Father. He concludes that as great as Rebecca’s love was for Jacob, Mary’s love for us is even greater: “[Mary] loves [us] tenderly, more tenderly than all the mothers in the world together. Take the maternal love of all the mothers of the world for their children. Pour all that love into the heart of one mother for an only child. That mother’s love would certainly be immense. Yet Mary’s love for each of her children has more tenderness than the love of that mother for her child. She loves them not only affectively but effectively, that is, her love is active and productive of good like Rebecca’s love for Jacob -and even more so, for Rebecca was, after all, only a symbolic figure of Mary.”

Likewise, says Saint Louis de Montfort, notice how Jacob behaved: he loved his mother, he was always happy to be with her, and, when she told him what he needed to do, he did it without complaining and without hesitation.

Secondly, Saint Bonaventure compares Mary to Abigail, calling her Abigail sapiens, the wise Abigail. Abigail was the wife of Nabal, who insulted David by sending away his men empty-handed. Out of revenge, David started on his way to slaughter Nabal and his family, but Abigail wisely went to go intervene, offering an apology and food. David was so moved that he forgave the great insult, praised Abigail for her goodness, and allowed Nabal’s family to live in peace.[1] That, says Saint Bonaventure, is exactly what Mary does from heaven on behalf of sinners. She knows very well how to appease the divine justice with her tender pleas to God, and God and sinners alike praise her for her goodness. He also adds that the name Abigail means joy of the Father, and, indeed, Mary is the Father’s joy.

Lastly, Esther is a foreshadowing of Mary. We recall that Esther found out that all her people were to be killed. After praying, and knowing that she could be killed if she went into the king’s presence without being summoned, Esther went to the king, who, out of his love for her, asked what she desired. She replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, my king, give me my people which I request.” Now, if the king granted Esther the salvation of her people because he loved her, how much more will God listen to Mary, in His boundless love for her, when she prays for the poor sinners who entrust themselves to her! “If I have found favor in your sight,” she asks, “give me my people.” We know that Mary has found favor in God’s sight, and, because of His great love for her, God will grant her whatever she asks for.

Today, we should consider how we live out our love for Mary. Do we trust in her, listen to her advice, confide in her, believe in her love for us? Let us ask, through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, for the grace to trust in her intercession and to truly live as her children who trust in her love and protection.


[1] Until, that is, Nabal dies suddenly a few days later and David marries Abigail, but that’s not important here.

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