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, 2022
Our first reading today comes from the story of the first sin in the Garden of Eden. God had created the garden as a beautiful place and put Adam and Eve there to live there and to care for it.
It was a beautiful gift to Adam and Eve. There was just one rule. Don’t eat the fruit from one particular tree. They could eat anything else. It was just one tree they couldn’t eat from.
So, what did Adam and Eve do?
They ate the forbidden fruit.
God came looking for Adam. Adam was afraid so he hid. Why was he afraid?
Because he realized he was naked. In eating the forbidden fruit, his sin was exposed. Adam was afraid of being punished.
What do we do when we sin? We often do what Adam did. He said, “The woman whom you put here with me – she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” Adam blamed Eve. Actually, he even tries to put some of the blame on God saying, “the woman whom you put here,” suggesting that if God hadn’t put Eve with Adam, Adam won’t have sinned.
God then speaks to Eve. In her defense she says, “The serpent tricked me.” Now, this is true. The serpent did trick her but she didn’t have to listen to the serpent. She knew the rule not to eat the forbidden fruit. She allowed herself to be tricked.
There may be blame to be shared but, in the end, we must take ownership for our part in our actions. We should be willing to accept appropriate punishment.
There comes the fear. How are we going to be punished? What consequences must we face?
Sin is real. We are weak. Adam and Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit points to our tendency towards sin. It says something about our humanity. We call it original sin.
It is in this sense that our first reading ends with identifying Eve as “the mother of all the living.”
As to our fear, God has a remedy. God spoke in the garden of their offspring.
God will bring forth Jesus as offspring to be our Savior. Jesus will come to save us from our sins. We do not need to be afraid. God loves us and He has a plan to save us.
Jesus came into the world as the one without sin. To do so, He must be born of one who is without sin.
Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. She was a virgin to show that Jesus became incarnate through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The angel Gabriel came to Mary to share with her the good news. Gabriel greeted Mary with the words, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was “greatly troubled” by these words. What did they mean?
“Full of grace” tells us that Mary is without sin. That’s what it means to be “full of grace.” “The Lord is with you” signifies that it is God who has come upon Mary so that she could be conceived without sin.
This is the Immaculate Conception that we celebrate today. Mary is conceived without sin so that Jesus can become like us in all things but sin. He does this to save us from our sins.
Eve’s sin showed our sinfulness (original sin).
Mary’s yes began a new age of salvation. Mary becomes the new Eve as Jesus comes to save us.