Mary’s Garment of Glory

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And the angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

Ephrem the Syrian is one of the Patristic saints who meditated on the contrast between Eve, the first woman and mother of the living (Genesis 3:20) and Mary the Theotokos and Mother of Life.  Poetically, Ephrem writes:

In her virginity, Eve put on 

Leaves of shame, but your mother has put on, 

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In her virginity, a garment of glory 

That encompasses all, while to Him who covers all 

She gave a body as a tiny garment.”   (SECLECT POEMS, p 51)

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Orthodox scholar and translator Sebastian Brock comments on Ephrem’s verse:

“The imagery of the Robe of Glory, deeply embedded in the Syriac tradition, is used to describe the various stages of salvation history: Adam and Eve are originally clothed in it in Paradise, but lose it at the Fall;

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Christ, the Divine Word who ‘put on the body,’ deposits humanity’s lost Robe of Glory in the River Jordan at his baptism, and at each Christian baptism it is received in potential from the Font (often described both as the Jordan and as a womb…); finally, at the Last Judgment, it becomes the clothing of the righteous in reality…

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Since Christ’s presence in the Jordan makes the Robe of Glory available again to humanity, his presence in Mary’s womb is understood as constituting her baptism, thus proving her with her Robe of Glory… Mary’s giving Christ ‘a body as a tiny garment’ and receiving in return a ‘Robe of Glory’ is one of the ways in which Ephrem brings out the idea of exchange involved in the incarnation; this is expressed… in epigrammatic form: ‘He gave us divinity, we gave Him humanity.’”  (SECLECT POEMS, footnote p 51)

Christ makes this robe of glory available to us all:  “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high”  (Luke 24:49)  Receiving the Holy Spirit, obeying God’s will and way, living by faith in Jesus – all are ways to be clothed with power from on high, the robe of glory.   “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).