Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
December 8, 2021 — Year C
Readings: Gn 3:9-15, 20 / Ps 98 / Eph 1:3-6, 11-12 / Lk 1:26-38
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
St. Thomas Aquinas once said, “As sailors are guided by a star to the port, so are Christians guided to heaven by Mary.”
It is a nice coincidence, as we prepare to commemorate the birth of Jesus with the Advent season, that we also have this season to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the womb of her holy mother, Saint Anne, the wife of Joachim. The feast we celebrate today, the Immaculate Conception, is that of Mary being conceived by her mother, Saint Anne, not Jesus conceived by Mary.
Some may have a misconception about this feast. The calculation of the date of the conception of Mary by Saint Anne is based on the feast of the birth of the Blessed Mother, which we celebrate every September 8.
The Church defines as a dogma of faith, what Christians have long believed about the Blessed Mother Mary, that she was conceived without any stain of sin, without even the stain of the inherited sin of the human race from the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve.
Theologians of the Church, particularly the Franciscan John Duns Scotus, maintain that this is brought about by God’s power and prerogative. Nothing is impossible with God, he said. He can do it and He did do it. God did this in anticipation of the merits of the saving act of Jesus who would become Word made flesh in the womb of Mary. That is why the Lord, God the Father, prepared the womb of Mary to be the container of His Son, Jesus Christ, to ensure that the person who was carrying His son was sinless.
The Gospel then speaks of Mary, not simply as one filled with grace, but as one full of grace, Duns Scotus says. Mary’s whole being is so full of grace from God that there is no space for sin.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary leads us to glorify the power and wisdom of God. It is God’s gift to Mary and to humanity. In Mary’s Immaculate Conception, Mary sets three examples that are worthy to emulate.
First is her example of faith. Mary’s life journey is one of continuing entrustment: “Let it be done to me according to Your word,” is her constant and consistent response to God amidst everything that enfolded her life. From the conception of Jesus on, Mary continued to say yes to the Father, even when the king was after the life of her Son after she delivered Jesus, up to the end of His life on earth. Mary continued to say yes to the Lord. Her surrender and obedience to the mystery of God unties the knot of Adam and Eve’s disobedience.
Second is her example of hope. Vatican II teaches, “Where Mary was, there we are. Where Mary is, there we will be.” After Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, the Immaculate Mother is the blueprint of what God’s grace has in store for us. That is why, after her immaculate life here on earth, Mary is assumed, glorified body and soul, into heaven.
Third is her example of love. Jesus, who is the love and mercy of God in all His words and works, reaches out to those on the edges. Mary herself, full of grace without any room for sin, is love in her own way. The story of the wedding feast at Cana demonstrates how Mary is the icon of motherly love: gentle, persuasive, and with attention to details.
Today, our celebration honors Mary’s Immaculate Conception, and we regard Mary in a special way. She is a mother to all of us, a mother whom we love, and a mother who loves us; a mother who guides us to our final home in heaven; a mother to whom we can tell everything; a mother who wants what is best for us. The feast of the sinless Virgin Mary is a victory day for all Christians. She stands before God as the best of humanity.
Again, let us remember, “As sailors are guided by a star to the port, so are Christians guided to heaven by Mary.”