The joy of being a Star Wars fan knows no bounds. To be treated to the latest epic adventure just days before the celebration of Christmas is like an embarrassment of riches! Let’s take a short spoiler-free look at Rogue One, and see what we can draw out of it.
StarWars.com offers this as a synopsis of the movie: “In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction.” While this is an ensemble cast, the story has an iconic heroine in Jyn Erso. Through her, the story is moved, the task is completed (don’t be surprised, since we have known since 1977) and all of the soldiers aboard Rogue One find their fulfillment. That is all I will say, in case you haven’t seen it yet. But seriously, why are you reading my ramblings if you haven’t seen the move yet? Put this down! Run to the theater! Then, come back and finish up here.
The scourge of the Empire has enslaved millions and oppressed the rest. Their power is supported by Death Star I as it menaces the galaxy. Only Jyn can get her hands on the plans and deliver them to the Rebel Alliance. Her efforts are the beginning of the hope-filled future for the Rebellion. The sinister Sith-inspired scum are coming upon their crushing calamity.
The Death Star I is a curse unleashed upon the galaxy. The only good that ultimately comes from its existence is that it hastened the end of Sheev’s folly. This curse was the downfall of many – even if we only consider the annihilation of Alderaan. Had it been allowed to indiscriminately enforce submission from orbit, the Emperor’s plan would have succeeded. However, the maleficent battle station failed because of its own ambition and through the woman who revealed its weakness.
This great woman, Jyn, is a type. She finds here incalculable value in the archetypical Woman. Let me digress here, as I often do (my teaching style tends to follow the logic of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Easily distractible). Jesus was at a wedding in a town called Cana. He was there as a guest, and not ready to reveal too much about his coming ministry yet. The wine runs low – a bad sign for a wedding reception. Mary, his mother, asks him to perform a miracle and create more wine. He responds to her by saying: “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?” (John 2.4). It has been wrongly asserted in some circles that by calling her Woman he is being dismissive of her, or denigrating her status in his eyes. But this is not so! No so at all! By calling her Woman, he is hearkening back to the beginning of time, revealing her to be the cause and genesis of all blessings and redemption to come to the race of humankind. The Woman that he is referring to is known by several names – the second Eve, the Virgin, the Mother of God, and Theotokos.
Let’s go back to Eve and see how important (crucial and exalted) the role of the Woman is in salvation.
It is a story as old as time itself – in the most literal way. Snake deceives woman, man blames woman, humankind is kicked out of its home. There was a time when peace reigned throughout the world, and the blessings of God were abundant and sufficient. But, deceived by the treacherous serpent, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were exiled from the Garden of Eden. Paradise was lost. Death found a beachhead into the world. As with all discipline that is delivered by the Lord, there is a corrective measure. All curses or disciplines are ultimately for the correction and eventual blessing of the subject.
God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this…
I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3.14-15)
The Woman of the prophecy is a deeper issue that takes some explaining. At first blush it would seem to refer to Eve, offering vindication of her dignity. While this is true to some degree, the greater point is that it is a prophecy looking forward to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In the Orthodox Church, we have given her another title – Theotokos, which means the God-bearer. This Woman, the second Eve, is the bearer of the fulfillment of the hopes and fears of all the years (see what I did there to start pointing towards Christmas?). Perhaps any of the sons of Eve literally crushed the head of that particular vile beast. However, that would not be enough to unravel all the hell that was unleashed. The Son of Mary destroyed the perfidious evil overlord completely. This reversed the curse, and indeed provided for Life to reopen the gates to Paradise.
This is the story of Christmas. The Nativity of the Son of God. It is not possible for a man to become incarnate unless he has a mother. Through the faithfulness of this Woman, Salvation in the person of Jesus came into the world. In the carol The Holly and the Ivy we will sing “The holly bears a blossom/As white as lily flower/And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ/To be our sweet Saviour.” I recommend the version by the Irish Rovers.
Mary, the Woman who bore Life, and thereby destroyed death, was a true rebel. She did not simply endure the outrageous misfortune of the first curse, but brought about her offspring in order to crush the head of that serpent. For that we say that she is most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious. You can’t add much more to those sobriquets, nor could Jyn or the rest of us aspire to anything greater.
From the time they left the Garden of Paradise, Adam and Eve looked forward to the day that their child (albeit many generations later) would destroy the clever beast that stole their joyous homeland. They dreamt of the day of reconciliation, which found its fulfillment in the faithful Woman Mary. She saved the Rebellion, gave birth to the Dream who restored all things.
The joy of contemplating the Christmas story knows no bounds. I am very thankful that through the Woman, Life is restored to all of the children of our first mother.
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Please leave comments on this and all my posts – I really look forward to it. You can find me on Twitter at @adelphotheos and email at jamesw@CoffeeWithKenobi.com, occasionally at TheForceandFaith.blogspot.com as long as I am not listening to the latest edition of the Coffee With Kenobi podcast!