The Immaculate Conception

Luke 1: 26-38
Gn 3: 9-15, 20 / Ps 98: 1-4
Eph 1: 3-6, 11-12

Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
(Luke 1:28)

Mary’s Immaculate Conception
Was designed for man’s salvation.
This doctrine may all Christians believe
That Christ’s Mother was sinless conceived.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” She asked the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” Mary answered, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-38)

Reflection

A young virgin named Mary was visited in her home by the Archangel Gabriel in a laid back village in Galilee. She was surprised by the angel’s greeting, and must have wondered: Why am I supposed to rejoice? Why am I full of grace? How can the Lord be with me? More puzzled, she asked, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And when the heavenly messenger explained God’s mission for her, Mary humbly replied, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.”

Today is one of the most special days in the Catholic liturgical calendar, because this day we commemorate the sinless conception of Mary, the Blessed Mother of our Lord. Since the Gospel passage today is about the mystery of our Lord’s conception, my wife insisted that the “Immaculate Conception” referred to our Lord Jesus Christ. To make the argument short, I asked her, “When is the birthday of Mama Mary?” She replied, “September 8.” Then I told her, “Count back nine months.” End of argument.

All faithful Catholics believe that aside from our Lord Jesus Christ, Mary was the only person exempted by God from the stain of original sin. Our Church enshrined this as dogma based on passages of the Holy Scriptures itself. First of all, in the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that God would visit His people and would be born of a virgin, and named Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14). In the New Testament, this prophecy was confirmed in Luke 1:27. Now, if Mary was indeed stained by the sin of Adam, what was God’s point of having Christ conceived in her womb as a virgin? As the first tabernacle of the Word made flesh, it was only fitting that she was pure, sinless and undefiled. That was why the Angel Gabriel addressed her as “full of grace”. That phrase would be a contradiction in terms if she had the slightest spot of sin in her soul. And besides, if God could create His angels sinless, why not the Mother of His only Son?

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary, “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.” (The Constitution of the Ineffabilis Deus).

Father most loving, thank You for giving us Mary, our mother, whom You preserved from the sin of our first parents. Grant that by her example, we may strive to be holy, by Your graces, by the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and for the love of Jesus. Amen.

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