Gen 3:9-15, 20; Eph 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38
Announcement of the Birth of Jesus
Christian artists through the centuries have represented the Annunciation more often perhaps than any other theme in the gospels, except the Crucifixion of Christ. Today’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception, however as distinct from the reading, is not about the conception of Jesus in His mother’s womb, but about Mary’s own conception her mother’s womb having been conceived and born free of original sin. Of course there is no Scriptural text to support this specific doctrine, so the Liturgy uses Luke’s account of the conception of Jesus. This makes sense, because it is only because of Jesus that we say the things we say about Mary.
And so on December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX declared that no moment in Mary’s life was, contrary to us who have a human nature tainted by original sin because of the fall of Adam and Eve, she under the dominion of sin. She was conceived without original sin and preserved from it in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. From the first moment of her life, the Blessed Virgin Mary and our Mother too, was in the original state of the fullness of grace. She was in the state of the original blessing. In other words, she was conceived immaculately in the womb of her mother without the stain of sin. Pope Pius IX infallibly defined the Immaculate Conception, this dogma of our faith in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus. He said: “…the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the first moment of her conception was, by the unique grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Savior of the human race, preserved intact from all stain of original sin,” and “is revealed by God and must, therefore, firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.” Blessed Duns Scotus, reasons out regarding the Virgin’s preservation from original sin, that it was possible for God to do it (‘potuit’), it was fitting that it should be so (‘decuit’), therefore God did so (‘fecit’). This is to show that God, in a special way, prepared Mary to be the Mother of Jesus, the Savior of humankind and the Redeemer of all.
The Immaculate Conception is a wonderful grace for the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is no wonder why Angel Gabriel greeted her so honorably when he brought the news of incarnation of the Savior: “Rejoice, O highly favored daughter! The Lord is with you.” Therefore, her entire life was filled with the grace of God. Somebody said that this Immaculate Conception is a wonderful grace of God for each one of us too. This is a beautiful example of God’s continued interaction and intervention in our life. God has a plan of salvation for us. Even if we frustrate God’s plan His love for us cannot be stopped. His grace is continually being poured forth upon us.
How are we going to respond to God’s grace in us? First, we need to believe in God’s presence. Although, we were not conceived immaculately, but when we were baptized, all the stains of sins and of evil were taken away from us and became God’s adoptive children. What a great blessing on our part to be belonged to God as His children, for in Christ we are destined for holiness and unblemished. We were prepared by God through the power of the Holy Spirit for a holy life and have to be unblemished in this unholy world.
Second, we must seek to cooperate with the grace of God in our lives. The Blessed Virgin Mary had shown us an example on how to do it, a model. Mary became an instrument of God’s plans. God needs us to be His instruments in today’s world and time. Let us pray to God that we may realize this great privilege and responsibility. And that through Christ we are empowered to resist the snares of evil and to do the will of God and we can place ourselves in the service of God.
For us who have devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, it is a cause of rejoicing to know that she was God’s “masterpiece” of creation. We depict her today as crushing the devil’s head, symbolizing her complete victory over sin and evil. It is encouraging for us to know that our heavenly mother has won. With God’s grace and her help, so we can.
See Today’s Readings: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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