Immaculate Conception of Mary

December 8

We are all born with original sin. Baptism as well as bringing us into the Catholic Church also washes away original sin. Today we honor Our Lady because she was conceived free from original sin. We believe Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception was a special grace given to Our Lady in advance because of her Son Jesus dying and rising. Time means nothing to God and God who had planned that his Son would become flesh and dwell among us, also planned that an Immaculate Mother would give birth to Jesus.

Although it was only on Dec 8th 1854 that Pope Pius IX solemnly declared that Our Lady was conceived free from original sin and that this was then a dogma of faith to be believed by all the faithful, it had been the belief of the faithful for centuries before that. When Our Lady appeared in Lourdes four years later in 1858 she said to St. Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception” confirming the Pope’s decision to declare the dogma of the Immaculate Conception four years earlier. Our Lady herself confirmed the Pope’s declaration that she was immaculate.

We look on the purity of Mary with admiration. She is the first believer in Jesus. She is the first Christian. We look on Mary as a model for us. Everyday we struggle against temptation and sin, or because of events in the past that have hurt us. We can and should pray to Mary to help us on our journey, to help us fight temptation and sin.

In our first reading we heard about Eve leading Adam into sin. Mary is the New Eve because at the Annunciation and all through her life Mary restored the relationship broken by the first Eve. She is the New Eve because she is the mother of all those born into new life through the grace in Christ. For this reason another translation of Gen 3:15 in the first reading today reads as Mary crushing Satan’s head.

In our moments of trial let us turn to Mary for help. She like us had to struggle with what it means to be a follower of Jesus. In the temple Simeon predicted that a sword of sorrow would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35). When Jesus was lost she had to learn that Jesus’ heavenly Father comes first (Luke 2:49). Mary too had to take up her cross after Jesus even though she was immaculate.

Faith is the key that unlock’s the power of God’s kingdom in our lives
What is the key that can unlock the power and grace of God’s kingdom in our personal lives? Faith and obedience for sure! When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they immediately experienced the consequence of their action – separation from the God who loved them. God in his mercy promised them a Redeemer who would pay the price for their sin and the sin of the world. We see the marvelous unfolding of God’s plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah. Mary’s prompt response of “yes” to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers. Mary believed God’s promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God’s will, even if it seemed difficult or costly.

Today we celebrate in honor of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception and not just because of this special grace given to her but also because we regard Mary in a special way a mother to all of us, a mother whom we love and a mother who loves us, a mother to whom we can tell everything, a mother who wants what is best for us.

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