Saturday, October 31, 2015

Where in Scripture Do We Find That Mary Intercedes for Us Before God?

Where in the Bible do we find we should go to the Blessed Virgin to have her intercede for us? Look no further than the Book of Esther. Who is the queen of heaven in Revelation? Is it not Mary? Esther is queen of the greatest empire at the time. According to The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names, Esther’s name means: “star; she that is hidden.” Is that not Mary?

For brevity sake, I am taking this from The Bible and its Story. From the introduction to the book, we learn: “The Bible and its Story is a massive collection of images which illuminate the story of Scripture. The images are taken from modern paintings, illustrations, and other renderings of the ancient text. Together, The Bible and its Story serves as a pictorial narrative of the entire story of the Bible—from beginning to end. It compiles the best of modern artwork to bring the Bible vividly to life.” I do not think the author was Catholic; nonetheless, I find the book very helpful.

“Esther is Crowned Queen. And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins: so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. (Est 2:17)” What woman in the New Testament was full of grace and highly favored in the eyes of God? What woman is crowned queen? Mary.

“Esther Robed in Splendor. The maiden in her gentleness and obedience found immediate favor with the chamberlain Hegai. He ‘preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women’. It was customary to give to each one of the chosen damsels whatever she might demand of clothes and ornaments for her adorning; but Esther left all this submissively to Hegai. Apparently she did not lose thereby, either in favor or in splendor of attire.” In the dictionary of Bible names that we are using, we find that “Hegai” means “venerable, a speaker, my meditations.” What woman in the New Testament is well known for her ponderings? What woman is the most humble, the most submissive? Which woman is robed in splendor? Mary.

“Esther Faints Before the King. Poor Esther summoned all her courage. She sent Mordecai word that he and all her people should gather to fast and to pray for her, that she and her maidens would fast likewise, and after three days of this solemn appeal to God, she would go to the king despite the law against it. ‘And if I perish, I perish’.” Although we do not find a reference to this in the New Testament in the strictest sense, we do find that Mary was “greatly troubled” by the words of the angel. Although the Blessed Virgin was without sin by the grace of God, she was still a human being. Were it not for the grace of her Son before the Incarnation, she also would have perished as the rest of her race. She did not set herself above others, thinking that she did not need their prayers; she welcomed all prayers on her behalf, and God answered those prayers—especially of her parents.

Our book continues: “This course was followed. The Hebrew Bible tells us only that, upon the third day, Esther appeared before the king’s throne and was pardoned by means of the golden sceptre. The apocryphal version narrates the occurrence at much greater length. It describes the details of Esther’s approach, leaning upon one of her maids, followed by another ‘bearing up her train,’ her face all beautiful, her heart anguished with fear.

When the king beheld her intrusion, he ‘looked very fiercely upon her; and the queen fell down, and was pale, and fainted, and bowed herself upon the head of the maid that went before her.’ ‘Then God changed the spirit of the king into mildness, who in a fear leaped from his throne, and took her in his arms, till she came again to herself’.” Because God is holy and just, many times we view that He looks upon our sinfulness fiercely. In a sense He does. God hates sin because sin is death, absence of Life, and He is Life.

“Esther Braves the King. The story of Esther stands first among the poetic books of the Bible. It is the story of her devotion to her race. She had been chosen as the chief wife of Ahasuerus, king of Persia; but because the Jews were prisoners in that land she had not revealed her nationality to the king or his courtiers. Haman, the king’s favorite, hated the Jews and secured from Ahasuerus orders to destroy the entire race. Esther, learning of this, resolved to save her people; but she might not go to the king until he sent for her, because the law said that whoever approached the king unbidden, should die.

For a whole month Ahasuerus did not send for Esther, and at length in desperation, as the time for the slaughter of the Jews drew near, she defied the law and went to the monarch. ?He spared her, yet she still feared lest her plea for her people might anger him, and so hesitated to tell him all. Instead, she invited him to a feast and then to another, ere at length she spoke in full. Her waverings, her fear, her heartrending anxiety have all been here conceived and expressed by the artistic spirit of Heyden.” Here we find the intercession of Esther on behalf of her people.

Was not Mary interceding for the human race in her fiat? Was she not interceding for her people during the wedding feast at Cana? Was she not interceding for her children in the Upper Room? “Esther. The beautiful Jewess Esther, heroine of the biblical book named from her, has always been a favorite subject for the painter, the poet and the romancer. Her story has long existed in two forms. The shorter version, preserved in the Hebrew and in the present English form of the Bible, is a vigorous, dramatic tale of how the entire Jewish race was brought nigh to destruction by the terrible venom of one man’s personal revenge, and of how the race was rescued by a woman’s devotion and her personal charm.”

Then the author continues: “The human element of the story is thus made much more prominent than its teaching of religion. Indeed there is very little of theological doctrine or ethical inspiration in the tale.” This, I very much disagree with. One must ask the question, “Why is this Book included in the canon of Scripture? What did God desire to reveal about Himself and salvation history?

Then the author continues on a more positive note: “This religious note is supplied by the ancient Greek version of the Bible, which contains many passages of prayer and parable not in the Hebrew. These passages are still preserved in the Catholic Bible but are by most modern editors relegated to the apocrypha, or omitted entirely. They cannot, however, be overlooked in viewing the story; for they have largely influenced both poets and painters in their depictions of Esther. She has become the ideal of gentle submissiveness, of tender womanhood forced into positions high and terrible, rising superior to her fears and accomplishing her mission.” Once again, we have a vivid picture of Mary.

“Esther Pardoned. Still following the spirited apocryphal account of Esther’s ordeal, we learn that King Ahasuerus ‘comforted her with loving words,’ assured her she should not die, and ‘held up his golden sceptre, and laid it upon her neck.’ Then Esther spoke, and with woman’s wit told him how his majesty had awed and overwhelmed her, ‘for wonderful art thou, lord, and thy countenance is full of grace’.”

I am going to conclude here. For the rest of the story, read the Book of Esther, with an eye on our Blessed Mother. I think it very well could lead to a deeper love and appreciation for our God, our Mother, and the Catholic Church—for we cannot “see” Mary if we cannot see her in the Catholic Church.
--Tommy Turner
Editor's Note: What Tommy is referring to is Typology, How the Old Testament Prefigures the New. It is a common practice for theological reflection.

This theological reflection courtesy of the parishioners of St Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola, Florida: