The Immaculate Conception
Today is the day we honor our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her immaculate conception. From her very conception she was filled with God’s grace. She was never stained by original sin. She was never separated from God’s love, not even as she was formed in her mother’s womb.
Our first reading today reminds us that the very first sin ruptured that perfect connection between God and humans. God had wanted us all “to be holy and without blemish,” as Paul put it to the Ephesians. But not until the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was chosen by God to bear God’s Son, was someone born without the stain of original sin. Filled with God’s grace, she chose to accept God’s will, impossible as it seemed at the time. God’s plan included all beings choosing to remain sinless. God introduced free will, giving us the ability to disobey, but did not introduce sin itself or death into the world. In Mary, God chose a woman who would once again have that initial choice. Unstained by original sin, she was offered the same choice as Adam and Eve. She chose to accept God’s plan. May we all choose to accept God’s plan.
At Mary’s conception, the Lord was already preparing the world for the Incarnation of his Son within her virginal womb. Mary’s purity, moreover, makes her closer to us than anyone else, for sin is what divides, while grace unites and heals. Mary loves us with perfect, maternal selflessness. The Immaculate Conception overcomes the trickery of the serpent, begins God’s recreating work of salvation, and renders Mary, in a new way, “the mother of all the living.” Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing!
Deacon Peter Smith serves at St. Mary’s/Holy Family Parish in Alabama, a retired Theology teacher from Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School in Birmingham, a retired soldier from the US Air Force, and a member of our extended Passionist Family.