Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Sphinx in the Zodiac Cycle: From Mary (Virgo) to Christ (Leo)

The Sphinx: From Mary (Virgo) to Christ. Picture credit: "Museo Egizio di Torino-631 o" by Tim Adams - worldisround.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Today, 1 January 2015, is the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  Today is also the start of the New Year. It is fitting then that the year should start with Mary and end with the Birth of Christ.

When I was in College, I read a book on Our Lady of Guadalupe entitled, The Last Gospel: The Miracle and Theology of the Holy Tilma. One of the points raised in the book is that the Sphinx, which has the head of a woman and the body of a lion, actually describes the beginning and the end of the Zodiac cycle: it begins with Virgo the Virgin and ends with Leo the Lion. These two constellations correspond to two things in Our Lady's tilma: the Mary's virginal heart and the fruit of her womb, Jesus.

Constellations Virgo and Leo in the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Picture credit: Monastery Icons.

Let us now meditate on the Biblical meanings of the constellations Virgo and Leo in connection with Mary and Christ.

A. Virgo and the Virgin Mary

In the Book of Isaiah we read:
Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as Sheol, or high as the sky!* 12But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”* 13Then he said: Listen, house of David! Is it not enough that you weary human beings? Must you also weary my God? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign;* the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel. (Is 7:10-14)
The immediate fulfillment of the prophecy is the destruction of the enemies of Judah, the Kings of Aram and Israel, within a few years after the birth of Emmanuel:
Curds and honey he will eat so that he may learn to reject evil and choose good; 16for before the child learns to reject evil and choose good, the land of those two kings whom you dread shall be deserted. (Is 7:15-16)
But God is preparing for another sign which is truly as deep as Sheol and as high as the sky: the Virgin Birth of Christ who is both truly God and truly Man. That is why in Christ, God is truly with us, the Emmanuel:
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord* appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. 21She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,* because he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

23* k “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” (Mt 1:20-23)
For this reason, the Catholic Church declares the Dogma of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. St. John Paul II explained this in his catechesis:


Mary is virgin before, during and after giving birth
2. In a brief formula, the Church traditionally presents Mary as "virgin before, during and after giving birth", affirming, by indicating these three moments, that she never ceased to be a virgin.
Of the three, the affirmation of her virginity "before giving birth" is, undoubtedly, the most important, because it refers to Jesus' conception and directly touches the very mystery of the Incarnation. From the beginning it has been constantly present in the Church's belief.
Her virginity "during and after giving birth", although implicit in the title virgin already attributed to Mary from the Church's earliest days, became the object of deep doctrinal study since some began explicitly to cast doubts on it. Pope St Hormisdas explains that "the Son of God became Son of man, born in time in the manner of a man, opening his mother's womb to birth [cf. Lk 2:23] and, through God's power, not dissolving his mother's virginity" (DS 368). This doctrine was confirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which states that the firstborn Son of Mary "did not diminish his Mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it" (Lumen gentium, n. 57). As regards her virginity after the birth, it must first of all be pointed out that there are no reasons for thinking that the will to remain a virgin, which Mary expressed at the moment of the Annunciation (cf. Lk 1:34) was then changed. Moreover, the immediate meaning of the words: "Woman, behold, your son!", "Behold, your mother" (Jn 19:26), which Jesus addressed to Mary and to his favourite disciple from the Cross, imply that Mary had no other children. (EWTN, from L'Osservatore Romano)
B. Leo and Christ the Lion

In the book of Revelation, we read:
I shed many tears because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to examine it. 5One of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David,* has triumphed, enabling him to open the scroll with its seven seals.”b

6Then I saw standing in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and the elders, a Lamb* that seemed to have been slain. He had seven horns and seven eyes; these are the [seven] spirits of God sent out into the whole world.c 7He came and received the scroll from the right hand of the one who sat on the throne.  (Rev 5:5-7)
To understand who this Lion of Judah is, we go back to the prophecy of Jacob (Israel) regarding his son Judah:
    "You, Judah, shall your brothers praise --your hand on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you.
9 Judah, like a lion's whelp, you have grown up on prey, my son. He crushes like a lion recumbent, the king of beasts--who would dare rouse him? 10 2 The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs, While tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people's homage. 11 3 He tethers his donkey to the vine, his purebred ass to the choicest stem. In wine he washes his garments his robe in the blood of grapes. 12 His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk." (Gen 49:8-12)
From this it is clear that the Lion of Judah refers to Christ for three reasons. First, the Angel Gabriel told Mary that her child would inherit the Kingship of David his father:
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31n Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32o He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”p (Lk 1:30-33)
That is why, as a sign of his claiming the throne of David, Jesus rides a donkey to Jerusalem in the same way as when Solomon was proclaimed king:
So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and Pelethites* went down, and mounting Solomon on King David’s mule, escorted him to Gihon. 39Then Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. They blew the ram’s horn and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” 40Then all the people went up after him, playing flutes and rejoicing so much the earth split with their shouting.  (1 Kgs 1:38-40)

The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them. 7* They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. 8* c The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. 9d The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna* to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” (Mt 21:6-9)
C. Conclusions

 The sphinx represents the beginning and end of the Zodiac cycle: Virgo and Leo, which corresponds to Mary's Heart and Womb in the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Virgo  corresponds to Mary while Leo corresponds to Christ. Mary is Virgo or the Ever-Virgin prophesied in Isaiah who shall bring forth the Emmanuel: Christ Who is both God and Man. Mary is Ever-Virgin, because she was virgin when she conceived Christ in her womb and she was a virgin when she gave birth to Him. On the other hand, Christ is Leo or the Lion from the tribe of Judah in the Book of Revelation, which is a fulfillment of the prophecy of the Jacob that from Judah shall arise a king who shall reign forever, as announced by the Angel Gabriel to Mary and Joseph. Similar to what happened during the proclamation of King Solomon as King as prescribed by David, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on and ass and colt, as the people cried out hosanna to the Son of David.


Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Last Gospel: The Miracle and Theology of the Holy Tilma
Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Last Gospel: The Miracle and Theology of the Holy Tilma
A Handbook on Guadalupe
A Handbook on Guadalupe
Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!
Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!
The Life and Glories of St. Joseph
The Life and Glories of St. Joseph
The Gospel Truth About Mary Volume II: Mary's Perpetual Virginity and Assumption 6 Disc Audio CD Set
The Gospel Truth About Mary Volume II: Mary's Perpetual Virginity and Assumption 6 Disc Audio CD Set
Revelation (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture)
Revelation (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture)
Aslan Statue from Chronicles of Narnia
Aslan Statue from Chronicles of Narnia
24x36 Poster; Jesus Christ Entry To Jerusalem By Lipo Memmi 14Th Century
24x36 Poster; Jesus Christ Entry To Jerusalem By Lipo Memmi 14Th Century
Sphinx Trinket Box Collectible Figurine
Sphinx Trinket Box Collectible Figurine