Saturday, 1st Week of Advent (8th December, 2018)
Solemnity – The Feast of Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary
First Reading: Gen 3: 9-15, 20 (He will crush your head)
Second Reading: Eph 1: 3-6, 11-12 (God chose us)
Gospel: Lk 1: 26-38 (Rejoice, full of grace)
Today we are glad to celebrate the Feast of Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary. This feast does not refer to the conception of Christ in Mary’s womb without the intervention of human father but the virgin birth of Mother Mary herself. A misconception regarding this feast is that Mary was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the way Jesus was.
Actually, the feast of Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary means that Mary’s birth was in a normal way like any other human being but that she was conceived without original sin or its stain. The ‘Immaculate’ here would mean without stain. This doctrine explains to us the preparation involved in the plan of God in bringing forth His Son through Mary. God desired that His son would be born through Mary without any human intervention. This necessitated that Mary chosen to play this supreme role in the salvation of humanity, should be showered with sanctifying grace. Grace is a state without sin. The original sin takes away the sanctifying grace from us. Mary therefore had to be preserved from original sin so that she may have God’s grace unaffected by any defect or sin. This state of grace was necessary not only when she conceived our Lord in her womb but also throughout her life.
In the first readying, we are given the account of the disobedience of the first parents and its consequence that followed. The grace and the blessings of God were given in abundance to our parents too. They were provided with all goodness. However, temptation to disobedient was too irresistible for them which came in the form of fruit. The disobedience led them to be deprived of the Grace of God. It is the instance of rupture of relationship between God and human beings through the act of disobedience.
This disobedience initiated by human beings and kept continued though generation after generation is rectified and the sanctifying grace is brought again through another woman, Mother Mary. This grace was given to the first parents too. They received it but did not preserve it. The sanctity was lost by the act of disobedience. As St. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, we have been chosen and adopted as his children for the praise of his glorious grace. We have obtained an inheritance so that we might live for the praise of his glory.
The call to praise God’s glory was given to the first parents as well but they disobeyed His commandment. Mary got the call and she respondent to it humbly saying, “I am the handmaid of the Lord”. Her ‘Yes’ is closely connected to the privilege given to her by God Himself. God’s grace showered upon her at the time of her birth continued throughout her life and it is effective in us now when we live like her. Her state of grace began from the earliest moment of her existence and continued till her assumption from this earth.
We need to reflect what Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary would mean for us. Mother Mary is a prototype of all human beings. Mother Mary was kept undefiled by any sin right from her birth and she cooperated with the plan of God to remain that state throughout her life. Today’s reading would show her disposition. She received the greetings from the angel, “Hail, Full of grace, The Lord is with you”. She pondered on it and then when the call to bear the Son of God was announced to her, she surrendered herself to Gods’ will. These two dispositions are necessary for us too.
Though born with the stain of sine we too, through our baptism are cleansed of the original sin and its effect on us. At our baptism, we too get the vocation or the call to be holy and blameless before Him. Mary received the divine help necessary for the task ahead. We too did receive at our baptism and do continue to receive it through reception of Holy Eucharist daily revived in worthy manner. This question is if all are preserving the state of holiness or the grace received through that sacrament or trapped by Satan as in the case of the first parents, we succumb to them. The episode in the genesis shows that Eve readily fell prey to Satan where as Mary ponders in her heart what she heard and continued as ever to fulfil being the choicest instrument of God till her assumption.
Can we say that we too are preserving the state of holiness in our life or like Eve we get easily succumbed to Satan’s work? One of the necessities to preserve in the state of holiness is prayer. So rightly Jesus says, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Mt 26:41). Let us be alert and pray so that we too continue to receive the Grace of God to fulfil His commandments. Amen.