Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3, 14-18
And Mary said,
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my saviour,”
for he has looked with favour on his lowly handmaid.
From henceforth, all generations will call me blessed;
for He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name.”
Luke 1, 46-49
The Hebrew name Tzion (ציון), or as translated “Zion”, appears over 150 times in the Bible. Interchangeably these verses refer simply to “Zion”, to a “Mount Zion,” “the daughter of Zion,” and “virgin daughter of Zion”. Zion is first mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:7: ‘David captured the fortress of Zion, which is the City of David.’ Zion was originally an ancient Jebusite fortress which David captured, allowing the Israelites to take possession of Jerusalem. The royal palace and the temple were subsequently built there, as Zion or Jerusalem, became the seat of power in the kingdom of Israel (Judah after the schism) and the chief site of worship. Thus, Zion is called “the City of David” and “the City of God”. The metaphorical term extends to the Temple (Synagogue) and God’s kingdom on earth.
The name Zion basically means “fortification” and carries with it the idea of being “raised up” as a monument and a sign of God’s presence among the Israelites and His rule on earth. As a fortress, it served as a place of refuge and protection for the Israelites from their enemies. Situated on top of a hill on the southeast side of Jerusalem, Zion was the strongest and safest place in the city for its inhabitants who would take shelter there. Inviolable from David’s time, through the reign of the righteous Davidic kings, no enemy ever entered this fortress which had been established by God’s providential design.
From a spiritual perspective, it is here God protects His virgin daughter from the rape her enemies intend to commit upon her; He keeps her pure in good measure from the gross idolatry wherewith the people of the surrounding pagan nations are defiled, viz., spiritual whoredom. God has removed His chosen people from their original prostitution in the world and has consecrated them to be his very own in holiness by establishing His covenant with them, which He shall faithfully keep despite their occasional infidelity. God’s covenant with His chosen people is perpetual. With the people’s transgressions against His laws and established precepts comes Divine chastisement as forewarned. Yet, on Mount Zion, the faithful remnant of Israel shall never be conquered and destroyed by their enemies under God’s gracious protection.
From Zion is where the word of God dwells and comes forth. ‘For out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ (Isa. 2: 3). It is in the temple where God dwells and from whence His word is proclaimed and His laws are prescribed. Those who hear the word of God and observe it are like Mount Zion, which shall never be shaken (Ps. 151:1). The name Zion also refers to God’s chosen people and faithful servants from whom the promised Messiah shall come forth and rule all nations in righteousness and justice with a rod of iron.
We see in Mary’s Canticle of Praise or the Magnificat that the first Jewish converts to the Christian faith in Apostolic time perceived Mary to be the personification of Daughter Zion. And for them, Mary was much more than a metaphor or an abstract figure representing a corporate entity and nation. She was the mother of their Lord (Lk. 1: 43), the Woman of Promise in the flesh of whom her Divine offspring was made (Gal. 4:4). They could relate to Mary on a personal level as much as they could with her divine Son and thereby deeply appreciate her contribution in His redemptive work (Lk. 1:45). She was someone they could personally relate to and love no less than they could the resurrected Jesus in their personal relationship with him, now that his mother had been gloriously assumed body and soul into Heaven.
The parallel Luke draws between Mary and Zion, by echoing the Old Testament prophets and alluding to the Psalms, clearly shows that this Marian tradition of the infant Church in Palestine was a vibrant part of the faith as part of a Judaic legacy. In the first part of the Magnificat, Mary refers to her position with God in the order of grace. All four verses in Luke 1:46-49 parallel Old Testament passages pertaining to Daughter Zion.
And Mary said,
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my saviour,
I will rejoice greatly in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robes of righteousness.
– Isaiah 61, 10 (cf. Zech. 9:9; Zeph. 3:14)
“for he has looked with favour on his lowly handmaid.
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
he has cast out your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall fear evil no more.
– Zephaniah 3, 15 (cf. Lk. 1:28, 30)
But you, O Lord, will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favour on her;
the appointed time has come.
– Psalm 102, 13
“From this day, all generations will call me blessed;
At that time, I will bring you home,
at the time when I will gather you together;
yea, I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the Lord.
– Zephaniah 3, 20
I will perpetuate your memory through all generations;
therefore, the nations will praise you for ever and ever.
– Psalm 45, 17
“because the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.”
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then we thought we were dreaming.
Our mouths were filled with laughter;
our tongues sang for joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
Oh, how happy we were.
– Psalm 126, 1-3
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
Joel 2, 32
The early Hebrew Christians certainly understood the soteriological and eschatological significance of Mary’s designation. They regarded her as a mediary of divine grace (Lk. 1:44) and as a place of refuge from their enemy Satan, especially since she was at enmity with the Devil and had crushed his head by her perfect faith in charity and grace (Gen. 3:15). Mary could be regarded as a spiritual fortress because of the power of her prayerful intercession (Jn. 2:3-5) and opposition to the dragon which could not conquer her (Rev. 12:13-14). Mary constantly observed the word of God and kept it (Lk. 11:28), even to the point of giving her beloved Son back to God for the salvation of the world, despite the terrible sorrow she would have to endure by the will of God for the sins of the world in union with her offspring’s afflictions (Lk. 2:34-35). God hears the prayers of the righteous (Jas. 5:17) and so, all the children of their heavenly mother can seek refuge in her supernatural merits and the power of her heavenly intercession for the actual graces they need to persevere in faith and conquer the Dragon and its wicked offspring once and for all in alliance with her.
It is through the desolation that Mary experiences at the foot of the Cross that she morally contributes to the deliverance of mankind from exile in sin and its restoration to friendship with God in collaboration with Him as His righteous spouse and handmaid (Isa. 54:1-3; Lk. 1:35, 38). And by having done so, Mary becomes the spiritual mother of all the living. All who believe in Jesus and keep God’s commandments are her sons and daughters (Rev. 12:17), being the rightful heirs of a promised inheritance together with Mary and Jesus, the Son of Promise and the first-fruit of the royal inheritance: resurrection to eternal life with God (Gal. 3:29; 1 Cor. 15:22-23).
For thus the LORD said to me, As a lion or a young lion growls over its prey, and — when a band of shepherds is called out against it — is not terrified by their shouting or daunted at their noise, so the LORD of hosts will come down to fight upon Mount Zion and upon its hill.
Isaiah 31, 4
Mary is at enmity with Satan, the prowling lion who is out to devour souls. The devil is her adversary, as he continues to make war with her and her children (1 Pet. 5:8-9; Rev. 12:17). It is through Mary’s maternal patronage and powerful intercession in heaven that Christ protects his Church and all her inhabitants from the enemy who seeks to destroy her. The Devil shall never conquer those who seek refuge in Mary’s Immaculate Heart. God has established her to be the security and protection of the Church. Through the intercessions of our Blessed Mother, our eternal inheritance is virtually assured. She is Advocatrix of the Church. She who never succumbed to adoring the false idols of this world can by her just merits protect all the Church’s inhabitants from worshiping pagan idols and defiling themselves, if only they seek refuge in her Immaculate Heart for the graces they need to persevere in faith. Because of the power of Mary’s prayerful intercession at the right hand of her divine Son by the throne of grace, the faithful of the pilgrim Church on earth assuredly receive the actual graces they need from her Son to persevere in faith to the end and attain their salvation. The pilgrim Church on earth has much cause to rejoice in their salvation because of her mother’s merciful patronage which has been established by God.
Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst,
says the LORD.
Zechariah 2, 10
Mary has cause to rejoice, for God has chosen her to conceive and bear His Son, who shall redeem the world and restore mankind to friendship with Him. And through her, God has chosen to execute His judgments on all His adversaries and those of His chosen people in all nations. God shall raise up the poor in spirit and cast the proud and mighty from their thrones; for through Mary, Christ shall be born to regenerate mankind unto God. People of all nations will renounce their idolatry by the saving power of God’s grace. They shall join God with purpose of heart in establishing His heavenly kingdom on earth. All nations shall be blessed in Mary, for the salvation of the world will come from her. Her virgin womb provides the pure, untilled soil for the Gentiles who shall hear the Word of God and be taught in His ways. In the hypostatic order of Christ’s incarnation through his blessed mother, God physically manifests His presence among us and dwells with us that we may learn of His ways, as to be eternally united with Him at the end of the course of our earthly existence.
O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
Psalm 53, 6
Jesus (Heb. Yeshua or “God is salvation”) comes to us from Mary. The salvation of the world comes from her. Mary is the dwelling place of God the Word, “exempt from putridity and corruption.” From Mary, we receive the true manna come down from Heaven, He who has called himself the “Bread of Life” that lasts to life everlasting with God and has delivered us from the slavery of sin and the power of death (Jn. 6: 32, 35-54; 11:25) Through Mary, our Lord has established the New Covenant of his blood poured out for all humanity to the joy of all Abraham’s faithful descendants, the true heirs of promise (Mt. 26:28; Lk. 22:20). And so, Mary has been clothed with purity instead of fine gold which can be corrupted, for in her, holy Divinity resides and comes forth for the redemption of mankind and its deliverance from subjection to the powers of darkness. From the time God restores Mary to His grace, by her Immaculate Conception, all mankind has cause to rejoice, for she has been blessed to be the mother of our Lord and Saviour. Humanity’s re-creation has begun with God’s creation of Mary in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and the birth of Jacob.
The LORD is exalted, he dwells on high;
he filled Zion with justice and righteousness.
Isaiah 33, 5
Our God who saves takes His holy flesh from the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom God has separated from the rest of sinful humanity, as to be worthiest of being the mother of His Only-begotten Son. To glorify the Son who glorifies the Father, God makes Mary holy and pure by His sanctifying grace. God has set her apart and consecrated her to Himself to be His holy bride as He is holy in preparation for the coming of the divine Messiah (Lev. 20:26; Lk. 1:35, 42) By Divine election, Mary is pledged to be the mother of our Lord and Saviour. He first appears in his glory tabernacled within the pure womb of his most blessed mother, who by the grace of God has no affinity with sin whatsoever. God is glorified by His most perfect creation in the person of Mary, the mother of our Lord, when He enters and dwells in her sacred womb. From the sacred womb of Mary, the most holy Offspring comes forth “full of grace and truth” to regenerate mankind unto God for His glory (Jn. 1:14).
Let Mount Zion be glad, let the towns of Judah
rejoice because of your judgments.
Psalm 48, 11
Mary rejoices in God her Saviour, for He has looked with favour on His daughter’s humility. The Lord has done great things for Mary by removing the judgement he has passed on sinful humanity from her by restoring her to His grace upon the creation of her soul (Lk. 1:46-49). She has no cause to fear God’s justice, for her love of God and neighbour drives out all fear which must do with punishment (Lk. 1:30; 1 Jn. 4:18). The spirit of the Torah or the natural law of love and freedom fills her soul and enriches her heart. Thus, God judges her to be worthiest of all women to be the mother of the Son. No pride and selfishness separate Mary from God’s love and His mercy. She rejoices in the love and kindness God shows her because He has judged her to be faithful and loving to Him, which is what she most desires. Mary stands opposed to the daughter of Babylon whose soul is corrupted by false idols. God’s faithful and loving daughter proclaims the glory of God in the depths of her soul where there is no place for the profane objects of dark worldly desires.
Our Blessed Lady has cause to rejoice in her salvation because her affections gravitate towards the righteousness of her Son. It is the covetous and the worldly minded who mourn, for their minds are set on perishable material things whose false glory is finite and shall eventually slip away from their grasps. Mary rejoices, for she desires nothing less than the things of God and the imperishable heavenly treasures that await her because of her love and fidelity towards God. Mary is confident that God has blessed her as he does all His faithful servants who humble themselves before Him and refuse to offend Him by bowing to false idols, but rather wish to observe His will always, placing God – the source of all life and true happiness in His goodness and love – above all created and perishable things which offer no true and lasting joy.
And all nations shall call you blessed:
for you shall be a delightful land,
says the LORD of hosts.
Babylon or sinful humanity has fallen and lies in ruin because of God’s judgment against her. There is no fear of condemnation for those who humbly love God and obey His commandments. In faith, Mary knows this, and so she is encouraged to rejoice in her salvation and praise God for His goodness and kindness to her and all the humble and poor in spirit who find favour with Him (Lk. 1:50-56). All generations of the Christian faithful shall rejoice with Mary for the blessings God has conferred on their Blessed Mother Zion from whose pure, untilled virgin soil of her sacred womb has sprung new life in God (Lk. 1:48). The Church rejoices in the Gospel of Luke for the streams of the Divine mercy that have flowed as living water down upon the Lord’s chosen handmaid from His loving kindness. The Lord has done “great things” to her – the mother of the Divine Messiah, sprung from the pure virgin soil of her womb – and holy is His name (Lk. 1:49).
Mary is blessed for having been chosen to be the mother of our Lord and Savior, but she is further blessed for having received the privileges of being the Mother of God, viz., her Immaculate Conception and Assumption body and soul into heaven. God has made her to be a delightful land that consists of all peoples from all nations who are regenerated unto God through her pure womb as brothers and sisters of her Son (Rom 8:29). The offspring of the free promised woman are the ones who sing her praise because of the spiritual gifts she has received from God (Lk. 1:48-49). And by God’s graciousness towards her, Mary is able to nourish and protect the souls of her children provided they remain faithful to her divine Son.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God has shined.
Psalm 50, 2
Luke presents Mary as likened to the Kingdom of God. She is blessed (eulogemene) above all the women on earth no less than Israel is blessed above all the nations on earth, both being declared holy and consecrated to God. The kingdom of God dwells in her (Lk. 1:42; Mk. 11:10). This is because God has established His covenant with her and His Word dwells within and radiates her soul as a light for all peoples. From her, the word of God is proclaimed as a model for all mankind to follow. The temple of her body is made sacred by the quality of her sanctified soul. Mary’s interior state is ruled by the word of God who reigns in her life of faith and charity in grace. She is like “Mount Zion that shall never be shaken,” for the word of God abides in her soul.
The Spirit of God dwells within her, and so Satan has no dominion over her soul. The holiness and justice of Mary’s divine Son is reflected in her person. She is like God, for the Holy Spirit dwells in her and she abides in His love. Unlike the sinful pagans of this world, Mary does not try to be like God apart from Him and in His place. The light of the Holy Spirit shines from her soul. He bears witness to the perfect beauty of its divine constitution by His presence and work within her that ultimately redounds to His glory. Mary is God’s work of art, and thus we cannot praise the Artist without praising His artistic work. St. Augustine reminds us that “God is glorified in His saints”.
And you, O tower of the flock, hill of daughter Zion,
to you it shall come, the former dominion shall come,
the sovereignty of daughter Jerusalem.
Micah 4, 18
By partaking of the divine nature, Daughter Zion is free from all the corruption that defiles the pagan world within the devil’s domain caused by dark human passions. Divinity shines forth from Mary’s soul, for God’s Holy Spirit dwells and rules within it. The kingdom of God is in Mary (Lk. 1:42). She can withstand the onslaught of the wicked ways of the ungodly world, for she is God’s re-creation in grace. In her blessed state, she is mystically united with God who has endowed her with the fullness of His lasting sanctifying grace (Lk. 1:28). Mary is at enmity with Satan and all his offspring who still belong to his kingdom and make war with her and her offspring. By her unwavering love of God and faithfulness, she crushes the devil’s head together with God (Gen. 3:15). Sheltered and inspired by God’s grace, Mary observes the word of God and keeps it throughout her life.
Satan can never conquer and rule over the Lord’s faithful handmaid and virgin bride as he has ruled over his subjected offspring who are enslaved in sin within his dominion. Mary possesses the innocence in the life of God’s grace that Eve lost for herself and her offspring. She is the free woman who God promised would crush the serpent’s head with her “immaculate foot” which shall help destroy its dominion on earth. In the order of grace, our most Blessed Lady immeasurably surpasses all the saints combined in holiness because of her intimate association with God in the hypostatic order of Christ’s incarnation. Jesus has chosen his mother to be his helpmate in the redemption and salvation of mankind, which requires that she be pure as he is pure in their shared humanity (1 Jn. 3:3).
The LORD sends out from Zion your mighty sceptre.
Rule in the midst of your foes.
Psalm 110, 2
Mary, daughter of Jerusalem and of the House of David, gives birth to the child “who shall rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5). “All kings shall fall down before him, and all nations shall serve him” (Ps. 72:11). His sceptre of justice is his living and guiding word for the entire world to heed, the rod of rectitude that dashes all pride and wicked desires to pieces. From Mary, the Divine Word takes his humanity and assumes his sovereignty over his enemies who oppose his word. These are the offspring of the serpent who are equally at enmity with Jesus and his blessed mother. Rightfully established as King who shall rule over all earthly monarchs and powers, Christ shall be victorious over his enemies. He shall conquer the powers of darkness that rule in this world in opposition to him with his Queen Mother (Gebirah) standing by his side.
By his laws, Christ shall pass judgement on all those who reject his word. The subjects of his spiritual kingdom are the ones who believe and abide in him by observing his word. They are blessed in the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit. Their souls are predestined to grace and through perseverance in grace predestined to glory, as the souls of Christ’s adversaries are destined for spiritual ruin because of their selfishness and moral corruption. Thus, from Mary’s pure womb, the living Word of God in the flesh has come forth to proclaim his truth and justice to humanity, establish his laws by Divine authority, and pass judgement on the world from his heavenly throne in righteousness and justice (Lk. 1:31-33; Rev. 19).
What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter Zion? For vast as the sea is your ruin; who can heal you?
Lamentations 2, 13
Mother Zion has cause to lament because of her miserable state. In His justice, God has abandoned her because of the sins of her children by allowing her enemies to victoriously destroy Jerusalem and the sacred temple. In the wake of her ruin, Zion has been deprived of all that is related to public worship, including the institution of the priesthood, the sacrifices, and the solemn festivals. She is in terrible distress because of the desolation the Israelite’s have brought upon themselves by heeding the words of false prophets and worshiping the false gods of their neighbours. The dark cloud of God’s just anger has covered Zion for the unfaithfulness of her children.
No longer is she protected by God as she was when He led her out of Egypt and provided safe passage for her children across the Red Sea, manifesting His guardian presence in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. With the destruction of all the habitations in Israel, including the sacred places, God no longer manifests His presence in the glory cloud (Shekinah) that once descended upon the temple and filled the sanctuary of the Ark of the Covenant. The children of Zion have alienated themselves from Him, and in their sinful condition, God is no longer manifested among them. It appears to the lost house of Israel that the God of their fathers has abandoned them. Zion weeps not only for their infidelity to God, but also in compassion for their despair.
For she saw the wrath that came upon you from God,
and she said: Listen, you neighbours of Zion,
God has brought great sorrow upon me.
Baruch 4, 9
God has distanced himself from His daughter, for her children have distanced themselves from Him. Even the most fortified palaces, castles, towers, and citadels have been entirely laid waste by the wrath of God because of the grave sins of Israel. Zion is no longer that fortress which cannot be shaken because of the people’s infidelity. God has drawn back His right hand from the enemy, because even His appointed kings and princes of the House of David are defiled by sin. The light and splendour of Zion has gone out, since she no longer exalts in the glory of the Lord through her offspring. No ally and earthly power can rescue her from the hands of her enemy. Only by humbly returning to God in faith and appealing to His mercy can the Israelites be delivered from ruin and captivity by Divine intervention which shall give Mother Zion cause for renewed joy.
The prophecies of Jeremiah, Baruch, and Malachi, pertaining to the misery and sorrows of Mother Zion, because of the apostasy and idolatry of her sons and daughters, find their secondary fulfillment in Mary’s sorrow at the foot of the Cross. Her interior suffering serves to make temporal reparation and satisfaction to God in His justice for the sins of the world. On Golgotha, she grieves for her sacred Son, King and High Priest, whose death is brought about by his enemies. Mary’s heart is pierced not only by the mockery and insults they hurl on her beloved Son as he is cruelly put to death, but also by the soldier’s lance that pierces the sacred temple of his body (Mt. 27:38-44; Jn. 19:33-34; Lk. 2:34-45). Because of sin, God does not spare even that which is sacred to Him, rending the Mother’s heart in two. In His justice, “He who [is] without sin is made sin for us” as a propitiation for sin to make eternal satisfaction to God and appease His wrath (2 Cor. 5:21). To redeem the world, God has allowed the unclean to defile that which is sacred and clean, all to the sorrow and anguish of our Blessed Mother beneath the Cross. But “destroy this temple” (of his body) and our Lord “will raise it in three days” (Jn. 2:19; Lk. 24:1-7).
Now, why art thou drawn together with grief?
Hast thou no king in thee, or is thy counsellor perished,
because sorrow hath taken thee as a woman in labour.
Micah 4, 9
Beneath the Cross, Mary is overwhelmed with sorrow and misery, for God has withheld His right hand and allowed the unclean to defile what is most sacred to her. The agonizing words of her Son must penetrate the depths of her soul as she suffers because of her love for him: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me!” The mother cannot be comforted in the loss of what is most precious to her. “How can [she] sing one of Zion’s songs on alien soil” (Ps. 137:4). Only God can deliver Mary from having been drawn into the dark, alienated world of sin and death through mankind’s idolatry and ungratefulness to God by not letting her Son see corruption. Her sorrow is turned to joy upon his glorious resurrection, and as all the inhabitants on earth are reconciled to God and freed from the slavery of sin and oppression of death, by her Son’s atoning death and the grace of redemption which he has merited for them in his paschal work (Rev. 12:4).
For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
anguish as of one bringing forth her first child,
the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands,
“Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!”
Jeremiah 4, 31
Mary’s suffering has the character of satisfaction in union with Jesus in that she suffers because of sin and the offence it offers to God. She suffers because of her love of God whom sin offends, by the love of her Son who is crucified for the sins of the world, and by the love she has for humanity which is ravaged by sin. The faithful remnant of Israel who must share in the suffering of those who brought about the ruin of the Hebrew nation by their sins and offences against God suffer in the same capacity that Mary does. It is they who acknowledge the sins of the nation and the need of making atonement for all the transgressions of the Divine laws handed down by Moses. Only by acknowledging their sins as a people and accepting their suffering as just shall they be delivered from captivity and restored to God’s friendship as a nation.
Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.
Then all your people will be righteous
and they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
the work of my hands,
for the display of my splendor.
Isaiah 60, 20-21
The sorrowful scene at the Cross is Old Testament imagery and symbolism related to prophecy and the Judaic traditions. Isaiah 49:21, 54:1-3. and 66:7-11 carry the theme of Mother Zion amid sorrow over the loss of her children, when suddenly she is given a new and large family restored in God’s grace which is cause for rejoicing (Lk.1:46-49; Zeph. 3:14-17). In the words of Raymond E. Brown (The Gospel According to John): “The sorrowful scene at the foot of the Cross represents the birth pangs by which the Spirit of salvation is brought forth (Isaiah 26:17-18) and handed over (John 29:30). In becoming the mother of the beloved disciple (The Christian), Mary is symbolically evocative of Lady Zion who, after birth pangs (interior sorrow) brings forth a new people in joy.”
Paul D. Hanson (Isaiah 40-66) adds: “Zion is not destined to grieve because of the loss she has endured, viz., the death of her Son. Instead, she will be able to compare her former desolation with the bustling activity of returnees (from exile) filling her towns and cities.” According to the author, the three-fold references to the children represent repopulated Zion. The returnees from exile foreshadow all believers in Christ who have been freed from the bondage of sin and impending eternal death, having been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ, but at the reparative cost of his blessed mother’s sorrow and anguish beneath the Cross in union with him (Rev. 12:4).
Yet her sun shall never set again, nor her moon ever again wane, since she has helped make satisfaction to God for the sins of the world in union with her Son’s temporal satisfaction and thereby eternal expiation. Lady Zion finds its final consummation in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is much more than a metaphor. Historically and tangibly, she is the mother of our Redeemer and our co-Redemptrix. Because of her impeccable faith working through love, she is forever “clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet” (Rev. 12:1) gloriously reigning in heaven as Queen with her Son, our Lord and King. Thus, Mary’s saving office is ratified on Calvary and from there continues even in Heaven. She remains to be a spiritual fortress and refuge of sinners in their spiritual combat with the Dragon. All those who bear witness to Christ her Son and keep God’s commandments implore Our Lady of Perpetual Help in their daily warfare with the Prince of Darkness in alliance with her until the consummation of this age (Rev. 12:17).
GIVE praise, O thou barren,
that bearest not: sing forth praise,
and make a joyful noise,
thou that didst not travail with child:
for many are the children of the desolate,
more than of her that hath a husband,
saith the Lord.
Isaiah 54, 1