Immaculate Conception

The Blessed Virgin Mary was the recipient of many extraordinary graces and privileges.  Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception; today we celebrate that singular gift of God by which Our Blessed Mother was preserved from all stain of sin right from the very first instance of her existence: from her conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne.

In the first reading, we heard about the effects of Original Sin.  Because Adam and Eve transgressed God’s command suffering and death entered the world.  Due to the fact that Adam and Eve rejected God’s friendship by their disobedience, the entire human race lost that original state of holiness in which our First Parents were created.

Jesus and Mary being excepted, every human being since the Fall of our First Parents have inherited from their conception a fallen human nature.  We, as children of Adam and Eve, are heirs to the consequences of sin.  The ordinary way that we are rescued from our fallen state is through the Sacrament of Baptism.  We are born with the stain of Original Sin upon our souls: we are born with the need to be purified from sin.  Jesus and Mary are the only two people that never shared in our fallen state.  They did not need to be purified because from the first moment of their existence they were preserved from sin.

Jesus, because He is both fully God and fully man, could never have been in a state of sin.  God and sin are completely at odds and incompatible with one another.  God is supremely holy.  He is without sin by His very nature.  When Scripture speaks of Our Lord becoming man it says that He became a man like us in all things except for sin.  He took on human nature, but it was an unstained human nature.  Like Jesus Mary also was preserved by God from the stain of sin.

We can see evidence of God’s plan to preserve Mary from sin right from the very beginning.  In the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned, God said that He would put enmity between the woman and the serpent and that the woman and her seed would crush the head of the devil.  The woman and her seed that would crush the head of the devil clearly refer to Jesus and Mary.  From the beginning of the human race, God planned to send His Son to die on the Cross in order to save us from sin and death.  From the beginning, God promised to put enmity between the woman and the serpent.  That enmity implies total separation: Mary and the ancient serpent have nothing in common.

This revealed Truth of our Faith can be further seen in our Gospel reading.  When the Archangel Gabriel first appeared to Mary he greeted her with the words: “Hail, full of grace.”  Grace is the very life of God; in other words it is the indwelling of God in the soul.  We receive grace into our souls for the first time at Baptism.  One of the effects of Baptism is that it gives grace (divine life) to the soul.  The Archangel recognized Mary as one that is already completely full of grace even before the Incarnation was effected.  God and sin cannot abide in the same place.  When we commit mortal sin, we drive God from our soul.  Through Reconciliation that grace is restored.  For Mary to be completely full of grace, she had to be completely free of sin.  Grace, the divine life of God, cannot fully abide in a place that is not fully without sin.

This revealed Truth of our Faith makes sense if only we stop and think about it.  The Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity came to earth through Mary.  By the power of the Holy Spirit He was conceived within her.  From her and from her alone Jesus Christ received His human nature.  For nine months He remained hidden in her womb.  How could our all-holy God dwell in a less than holy tabernacle?

From the Fall of our First Parents God planned to send His Son into the world.  Right from the beginning Mary was part of the plan of Redemption: she is the woman whose seed has crushed the head of the devil.  God preserved her from all stain of sin in order to make her worthy of the awe-inspiring task of becoming the human Mother of His Eternal Son.  God completely filled her with grace, from the first instant of her existence, so that Our Lord could become Incarnate of her.  These remarkable gifts given to Our Most Blessed Mother ought to inspire our hearts with wonder and gratitude to God for all that He has done for Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and Our Mother.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.