Immaculate Conception of Mary - Dec 8

 Mary’s Faith and Love That Never Knew Sin: A child born and reared in an irreligious family of evildoers and thieves is seriously handicapped in becoming and remaining a good person. Similar to this is the human condition into which we are born. In the human race we experience a mysterious collectivity in evil that we cannot understand completely. Evil will always be obscure. And one thing is sure: it would require a special favor of God for us not to be infected by evil in and around us.

This special favor was given to Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. In today’s Gospel, God addresses Mary through his angel: "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." We are not so favored! Hence, from the lowliness of our sinful condition, we pray: "Father,….Mary had a faith that your Spirit prepared and a love that never knew sin, for you kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Trace in our actions the lines of her love, in our hearts her readiness of faith". 

I am the Immaculate Conception.” Four years after the Church formally defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Bernadette Soubirous experienced the first of her apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Lourdes. She was only fourteen years old at the time, and in the French society of that day, the reality that her family was very poor meant that she had no social standing. So, when she tried to explain that she was having visions of a beautiful Lady in what we know today as the Grotto at Lourdes, no one believed her. At first not even her parish priest gave any credence to what she was saying. It wasn’t until the Lady that she was seeing identified herself, and Bernadette shared this, that people began to wonder if there were a whole lot more to the story. The Lady in the Grotto did not identify herself simply as Mary. Instead, she identified herself with words that a Pyrenean peasant girl with little theological education at the time would not have known or understood: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” 

Bishop Sheen on Immaculate Conception: “Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting. Furthermore, suppose that you had the infinite power to make your mother anything that you pleased, just as a great artist like Raphael has the power of realizing his artistic ideas. Suppose you had this double power, what kind of mother would you have made for yourself? Would you not have made her, so far as human beauty goes, the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you but even to your fellow men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood? Do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but Who had an infinite power to make her just what He chose, would in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother? 

Mary leads the way for all the people who journey toward the Lord. Today the Church applies to Mary, the virgin conceived without sin, the words of the prophet: “I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God.” Why this joy? Because Mary is like the garden of humankind in which God lets the good seed sprout. Because she is the servant of the Lord and the image of what the Church ought to be. God is faithful to his promises and through her he gave us our Savior. Mary is the first and the only one of all people who was kept from sin. She is paradise restored, where God and people encounter one another. 


We are taught about Mary, highly favored by God and blessed among women. Christian tradition sees in the greeting of the angel and Mary's unique destiny that she was given grace in a special measure and united with God in such a way that she is "full of grace," hence sinless from the moment of her conception: 

Parents who are open to the demands of family life are truly free. Ministers of the Word, both clerical and lay, who allow Cod to make demands on them know about freedom. Single people who meet the needs of others in their walk of life strike a blow for freedom. Leaders who respond to the cries of the poor and neglected demonstrate the meaning of freedom. All such people are hearers of Cod's Word and thereby announce that freedom means openness to God's Word. 


 God our Father, we thank you for choosing Mary as the Mother of your Son and for preserving her from all sin from the first moment of her life. Let this sign of your boundless love give us hope and strength to overcome evil in all its forms. May we respond to your loving goodness with the eagerness of Mary, by the power of the grace won for us through Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.