Mary, Daughter of Zion
Fr. Scott A. Haynes
In what is among the most simple and beautiful prayers in the Torah, Moses fervently prays for God to dwell “in the midst of” his people. It is a praiseworthy request, but God’s answer is a firm “no.” God’s will was always to dwell in the midst of his people. But there was a problem—the sins of the people of Israel.
The Lord said to Moses . . . Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go among you, lest I consume you in the way, for you are a stiff-necked people (Exodus 33:3).
God could have dwelt among them—but he would have destroyed them if he had! The holiness and justice of God cannot tolerate sinful disobedience. Despite the dire warnings, Moses entreats the Lord anyway with this prayer:
If now I have found favor in thy sight, O Lord, let the Lord, I pray thee, go in the midst of us, although it is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thy inheritance. (Exodus 34:9)
Moses’ petition would not be granted in his lifetime, or even under the Mosaic Covenant. Because of the sins of Israel, God would only dwell in the Ark of the Covenant made of wood and gold, in the tabernacle in the wilderness, or later on in the temple of Jerusalem.
However, the God-inspired longing of Moses’ heart would one day be realized. Multiple prophets before Moses prophesied God would indeed one day dwell in the midst of his people. But this ancient promise would only find its fulfillment in Jesus Christ and in His Mother, she who is the Immaculate Daughter of Zion.
The sin of Israel prevented God from dwelling in the midst of the virgin daughter of Zion. But the obstacle that kept God from dwelling in the midst of his people had been eliminated through Mary’s Immaculate Conception, when Our Lady became the archetype of the Church—“holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).
As she was “full of grace” (gratia plena) Mary was the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the Daughter of Zion. This was in preparation for the Incarnation of Our Lord and Messiah. Mary’s fullness of grace had prepared the New Covenant Daughter of Zion for something the Old Covenant people of God could never have fathomed. It was grace that made her fit to be a worthy vessel to bear the King of Glory in her very own body. The fulfillment of God’s promise would not be complete, then, until Mary conceived Jesus in her womb. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28). You are the Immaculate Daughter of Zion!