The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Genesis 3:9-15,20  +  Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12  +  Luke 1:26-38

“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

In the beginning, God had a plan.  God’s plan was for mankind to live a blissful life in this world, and at the end of that earthly life, to rise body and soul into Heaven.

But mankind did not cooperate.  You know how Adam and Eve brought sin into the world.  They did not cooperate with God’s plan, and so God came up with a “Plan B”.  In this “Plan B”, God would show His love for mankind by sending His only Son to earth, knowing that man would crucify this Son, yet also knowing that the Crucifixion of His Son would destroy the power of sin and death.

In God’s “Plan A”, one man and one woman were to begin God’s plan.  They failed.  Adam and Eve instead brought sin and death into human experience.  Adam and Eve changed a human paradise into a valley of tears, full of suffering, doubt, and at time, even despair.

In God’s “Plan B”, one man and one woman were to begin God’s plan.  These two obeyed.  They fulfilled God the Father’s Will.  And so through there two—Jesus and Mary—you now have the opportunity to live a life here below filled with hope and joy.  Those virtues and all the rest of the virtues will be fulfilled in the perfection of Heaven if we cooperate with God’s grace to the hour of our death.

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Today the Church throughout the world celebrates the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Our Blessed Mother is the one creature in all of God’s Creation who obeyed God unfailingly.  Our Blessed Lady is the one human person who has been completely open to accepting Jesus into her life.  God knew that Mary would be such a woman before her life began.  That’s why He gave her a gift at the moment that her mother, St. Anne, conceived her.  God kept Mary from inheriting Original Sin, so that Mary would be the best possible mother for His Son.

We hear of Mary’s faithfulness in today’s Gospel passage.  “Gabriel was sent from God… to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph… and the virgin’s name was Mary.”  She asks how she, a virgin, can conceive.  But God’s messenger assures Mary that God’s Son will be conceived in her womb by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Mary’s virginal conception of Jesus reflects God’s omnipotence.  God can create something out of nothing.  In the beginning, God created the universe out of nothing.  Similarly, in the nothingness of Mary’s virginity, God creates, and His Son is conceived as a human being in Mary’s womb.  But these two acts of God creating out of nothing—God’s creation of the universe, in the beginning; and God’s creation of Jesus’ human body and soul, in the fullness of time—both foreshadow an even greater miracle on God’s part.

Likely you have heard the saying, “The wood of the crib is the wood of the Cross.”  This saying isn’t literally—historically—true, but its truth lies in pointing out that Jesus’ conception and birth were a means to a greater end:  that end being Jesus’ Death and Resurrection.  As another saying puts it, “Jesus was born into this world, so that he might die from this world.”

Through Mary, God’s Son comes into the world to destroy sin and death.  Jesus’ vocation is fulfilled more than three decades later, according to the same pattern by which God created in the beginning, and in Mary’s womb.  God creates… out of nothing.  So it is with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.  Human sin is a failure to love.  Human sin is an absence of grace, an absence of love.

You and I, as human beings:  how do we respond when someone doesn’t love us?  In our sinfulness, we usually respond in kind.  If someone gives us the cold shoulder, we do the same.  We respond to an absence of love with a further absence of love.  That’s how sin works:  it spreads like a spiritual and moral cancer, destroying the love that God meant, in the beginning, for our human life to be all about.

Thanks be to God, God does not respond to sin as you and I do.  If God did, then when we wandered far from Him, God would have (metaphorically) turned His back on mankind, and left us to wallow in sin, finally to die and exist forever separated from Him.  Thanks be to God, God responds to the nothingness of sin by choosing to love.  Down into the midst of a human race of sinners, God chose to send His only-begotten Son.  On Calvary, in the midst of the nothingness of rejection, rebuke, scourging and mockery, Jesus offered His life for the forgiveness of sin.  In the midst of the nothingness of sin, God “re-deemed” the world.

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Thanks be to God for His act of “re-creation”.  Thanks be to Our Blessed Mother Mary for saying “Yes” to her part in God’s plan.  And thanks be to God for preparing Mary to say “Yes” to His will for her life.  Those are the three truths that the Church celebrates today on this Holy Day of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

First, God from all eternity, knowing that man would reject Him, planned to re-create the human world through the offering of His Son.  Second, God chose Mary to be the Mother of His only-begotten Son, and Mary chose perfectly to accept this vocation.  Third, knowing from all eternity of Mary’s fidelity, God prepared Mary for her vocation be means of a unique grace:  the grace that we call the “Immaculate Conception”, preserving her at the moment of her conception from Original Sin.

This gift was given to Mary not only for her own sake, but for the sake of her Son, and for the sake of all those who would become members of her Son’s Mystical Body, the Church.  You and I celebrate Mary’s fidelity today because she is our Mother.  We honor her as the first and best disciple of Jesus Christ.  We also honor her because of the unique gift of holiness that God gave her through her Immaculate Conception.  During this Season of Advent, Mary’s life shows us best how to receive Jesus into our lives.