HE WHOM THE WHOLE WORLD CANNOT CONTAIN, MARY ALONE EMBRACES
(A sermon of St. Ephraem, Sermo 3 de diversis: Opera omnia, III syr, et lat., Romae 1743, 607).
Mary was made heaven on our behalf by bearing the divinity which Christ, without leaving the glory of the Father, enclosed in the narrow confines of her womb so as to lead men to greater dignity. He chose her alone from the whole assembly of virgins to be an instrument of our salvation.
In her the oracles of all just men and prophets found their fulfilment. From her was born that brilliant star under whose guidance the people who walked in darkness saw a great light.
Mary can be called very appropriately by different names. She is the temple of the Son of God, who came forth from her in a different way from which he had entered; for he had entered her womb without a body, and came forth clothed in one.
She is the mystical new heaven, in which the King of kings dwelt as in his abode, and from which he came down to earth in an earthly form and likeness.
She is the fruitful vine of gentle fragrance. Her fruit, though absolutely differing in nature from the stock, was necessarily changed by the stock to be like it.
She is the fountain springing from the house of the Lord, from which flowed living waters to the thirsty who, even just tasting them with the lips, would never thirst.
Is it wrong, beloved, to think that the day of Mary’s reparation can be compared with another day of creation? In the beginning the earth was created; through her it is renewed. In the beginning its activity was cursed by the deed of Adam; through her peace and security is restored. In the beginning, death entered all through the sin of their first parents, but now we have been transferred from death to life. In the beginning, the serpent through the attention of Eve’s ears, spread poison to the whole body; now Mary receives through her ears the author of perpetual happiness. What was an instrument of death, now stands as an instrument of life.
He who sits above the Cherubim is now held in a woman’s arms. He whom the whole world cannot contain, Mary alone embraces. He whom Thrones and Dominations fear, a young girl protects. He whose dwelling is eternal, sits on the lap of a virgin. He who has the earth for a footstool, steps on it with the feet of a child.