Mary appeared to us as a sealed letter, in which were hidden the mysteries of the Son and his depth.
She gave her body as a clean sheet; the Word wrote his essence on it, corporeally.
The Son is the Word and she is the letter, as we said, by which forgiveness was sent forth to the whole world.
She was the letter, not because she was sealed after she was inscribed, but the Divinity sealed her and then wrote on her.
They sealed her and inscribed her; she was also read although not being opened, because the Father revealed in her, mysteries more sublime than usual.
The Word entered and dwelt in her within the guarded seals, tokens of virginity in her body but conception in her womb which is full of wonder.
With her the Father sent us tidings full of good things, and through her, forgiveness to all condemned for their bonds of sin.
She was a letter in which the secret of the Father was written which by her flesh He revealed to the world that the world might be renewed by it.
O letter – it was not a case of it being written and then sealed; but it was sealed first and only then written – a great wonder!
For while it was sealed, it was mystically written; although not opened, it was read clearly.
She became a letter, and what was written on her is the Word; when it was read, the earth was enlightened by its tidings.
The above excerpts are from Jacob of Serug’s book, On the Mother of God. Jacob was a Syrian Orthodox whose writing flourished at the turn of the fifth-sixth centuries. Tradition says that when he was about three years old he received three “handfuls” of the Holy Spirit at one of the liturgical festivals of our Lord. From that time on he began to speak homilies and treatises. He was made Bishop of Serug in the year 830 at the age of sixty-seven. He departed to the Lord on November 29, 833.
Some interesting and notable points of Jacob’s theology and writing include the following:
- Mary’s role is crucial to the events of the incarnation. Without her the incarnation would not have taken place.
- Jacob rejects the idea that the Word entered Mary’s womb before the angel had spoken. Her consent was absolutely necessary. “The moment she replied in the affirmative, she conceived in her womb,” says Jacob.
- Consistent with the Syriac tradition, Jacob regards the Word as having entered Mary through her ear.
- Jacob differentiates between Spirit and Power in Luke 1:35, “the Holy Spirit shall come upon you and the Power of the Most High shall overshadow you.” The Spirit is the Holy Spirit who first sanctifies Mary’s womb. The Power is the Word who then enters and dwells therein.
- Jacob refers to the Angel Gabriel as the “Watcher.”
What does the Father’s letter say to you and how will you respond? If you were to write back to the Father what would your letter say?
Related post: Birthing God