I recently came across this picture of Mary comforting Eve, and the juxtaposition of sadness and hope struck me. It was painted by Sister Grace Remington, OCSO, from Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa. The picture is a beautiful depiction of the link between these two women – Eve, who brought sin into the world through disobedience, comforted Mary who brought the One into the world who would crush sin. The picture shows how the Bible tells one story – of the fall and of restoration.
In this picture, Eve looks down, her eyes full of sadness, and Mary gently reaches out to her to comfort her. It is easy to look at Mary and see a woman of faith. She took on great shame in order to bear the Savior of the world because she trusted in God. But it’s not so easy to look at Eve and see her faith. Most often, we look at Eve and see her failure.
However, as we look at heroes of the faith, it becomes clear that most had times of failure, and their faith was shown as they returned to trusting God, often in a way which was much deeper than before. I think the same can be said of Eve.
While her initial test of trust in God was a failure – she trusted the words of the serpent over the words of God – Eve’s story does not end there. Adam and Eve are cursed, but Eve was promised that one of her descendants would crush the serpent’s head. In other words, one of her descendants would save the world from sin. Both Adam and Eve took hold of this promise, and trusted God for its fulfillment. This is shown first through Adam giving Eve her name. “Eve” means “life” or “living”. Adam recognized that life would come through Eve, both literal physical life, but also spiritual life through this One, this descendant, who would rescue humanity.
And, of course, Eve goes on to have children, probably many more children than are recorded for our benefit. Eve’s first child was named Cain, and when he was born, she said, “with the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” (Gen 4:1). Eve could see the beginning of the promise at this point. She had born a boy – the first baby, and the first indication that God would fulfill His promise to Adam and Eve. Every child she bore was an act of faith that God would fulfill His promise. Though Eve didn’t see the fulfillment of the promise, and she may have expected it to be fulfilled right away, it seems that she lived the rest of her life in faith, trusting that God would use her descendants to undo the curse that had been placed on all humanity.
So now Mary reaches out and comforts Eve. Your faith has not been in vain. He is here! The Chosen One, who God promised would come. He will rescue humanity from their sin and fulfill the promise God gave you from the very beginning of time. Lift up your head, and rejoice!