The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Psalm 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4 (1)
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
December 8, 2021
Our readings today begin in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were there in paradise until the cunning serpent came and tricked them into eating the forbidden fruit.
After that, Adam became afraid when he heard God in the garden. Adam feared because he knew he was naked for he had sinned.
Adam was not alone in his sin. He had eaten the forbidden fruit at Eve’s prompting. Eve in turn had eaten the forbidden fruit because the serpent had tricked her.
The devil is cunning. He knows how to twist words to make us think something is okay when it isn’t.
We call the eating of the forbidden fruit “original sin.” We all have this within us. It is removed in Baptism. As humans, we commit sin. What are we supposed to do? How can we overcome sin by ourselves?
We don’t have to.
Don’t get me wrong. We must make every effort to avoid sin.
Yet it is difficult. We have all sinned. What are we to do?
We turn to God. In Adam, in Original Sin, all die. God has the remedy. God sends Jesus, who is “without blemish” to save us. “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Yes, Jesus is without blemish. Jesus is like us in all things but sin.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Our gospel today tells us of the time of Jesus’ Conception. Given that Jesus has no sin and that the gospel mentions his conception, it might be easy to think it is his conception that this solemnity is about.
It is not.
It is not Jesus’ conception that we celebrate today. We celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas on December 25th. We celebrate his conception nine months before that on March 25th on the Feast of the Annunciation.
So, whose conception do we celebrate today?
Whose birth do we celebrate nine months after today on September 8th? Mary.
In order to be worthy to carry Jesus, who is without sin, in her womb, Mary had to be without sin herself.
The Bible tells us that Mary is without sin. Where? When the angel Gabriel greets Mary with the words, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” To be “full of grace” is to be without sin.
The Original Sin came with Adam and Eve. Jesus becomes the New Adam as the one without sin. Mary becomes the new Eve. Just as Eve became “the mother of all the living,” Mary becomes our mother.
We sin because we have free will. God does not force us to do what He knows is good for us. God did not force Mary to be the mother of Jesus. It was her choice. What was her response? “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” This is known as Mary’s fiat. It is her yes. We thank Mary for her yes for from it Jesus came into the world to save us.
God knew Mary would say yes. God also knew she would need to be without sin. Thus, God saw fit that when Mary was conceived in her own mother’s womb, she was conceived without sin.
This is the Immaculate Conception that we celebrate today. We call God’s grace in this “prevenient,” meaning that God, who knew Mary would say yes, gave her the grace before she said yes to be conceived without sin.
Mary is without sin. We have sin. Yet, we can be saved.
We have sin. God knows this. God loves us anyway. “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Remember, even though you are a sinner, God loves you.