Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is a great and joyful day, a great solemnity and celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the dogma of which had been promulgated by Blessed Pope Pius IX and confirmed just a few years later by the visions of St. Bernadette Soubirous at the now famous Marian site of Lourdes in France.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is about the fact that because Mary is the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the Word of God and the Son incarnate into flesh through the Blessed Virgin, hence it is only fitting that because Christ is pure and without the taint of sin, being God of all goodness, then Mary, His mother, who bore Him in her womb for nine whole months, be made equally pure as well, so that she, as the vessel of the Holy Presence of God, is also without sin.
Thus, this is the meaning of the Immaculate Conception, immaculate which means pure and free from sin, and then conception, the moment when a baby, a human being is formed in the womb of the mother. This means that Mary has been prepared and created in such a way that set her apart from all other men, because while all other men were born with the ties of original sin, the original sin of Adam and Eve, our first ancestors, from the mark of their first disobedience against God, Mary was set free from that bond of sin.
Just as the first woman disobeyed the Lord and sinned, and therefore brought evil into the world and into the hearts of men, then the new woman, Mary, is full of grace and free from sin from her moment of conception, and she obeyed the Lord completely, following all of God’s commandments and lived righteously. Therefore, through her, God was willing to grant His blessings and graces to mankind, that is none other than the gift of His own Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
And just as the first men had sinned, and therefore brought the just punishment for sins to mankind, that is death, then through the new Man, born from the new woman, Mary, through His perfect obedience and love for the Lord God His Father, and through His suffering and love for us unto death, death on the cross, and by rising from the dead, He had gained for us a new life in God.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, even as we await the coming of our Lord and as we continue our preparation for His coming in this holy season of Advent, we also celebrate with joy and great hope, the culmination of the long-planned plan of God’s salvation for all of His beloved people, that is all of us. Ever since mankind first sinned against God and fell into the darkness, He had made known what He planned to do, in order to save us from certain death.
He cursed Satan, the snake, for his involvement in tempting mankind to rebel against God and follow their own desires, which is a trait that we continue to carry on even until this day, a vestige of what happened that day in the gardens of Eden. He also punished men, both men and women for their disobedience. They had to suffer the consequences of sin, and that consequence, is death. That is why all mankind are mortals, destined to one day die, although indeed, we were not meant for death when we were created by God.
If we are therefore, able to overcome sin, then we will be able to transcend our fate that is death. And that is exactly what our Lord Jesus had come into this world to prove, and through His own mother too, both of whom were conceived without sin, and remained without sin thereafter. He is because He is God who is all good, and even though Jesus was fully Man, He was also fully Divine at the same time, and thus sin have no place in Him.
He was tested and tempted in every way possible, but He obeyed the Lord and the will of His Father to the fullest. And even at His most vulnerable during the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was tempted terribly to let the suffering of the cross pass from Him, but He remained completely faithful to the mission entrusted to Him. As the new Adam, therefore, He began a new beginning for mankind, where through obedience to God’s will, He had brought life to mankind, and in Him lies the hope of victory and final triumph against death and evil.
For Mary, His mother, as I have mentioned, she too overcame the power of sin, remaining holy, pure and immaculate throughout her life. Despite the great burden and responsibility placed on her, when she heard the Good News of the Archangel Gabriel, that she was to be the Mother of the Saviour and Lord, she accepted it with full faith and confidence in God, putting God’s will first before that of hers.
Today’s feast is a kind reminder to all of us, that through Mary and her example of faith, and also through the faith showed by her Son, Jesus Christ, we can be freed from our attachment to sin, and also to gain for ourselves the salvation which has been promised to us. Indeed, we may think that because Mary had been set aside by God, to be without sin for her role, then it may be impossible for us to do as she had done, but have we ever thought, brothers and sisters, that we too, have been called to the same mission as her?
Mary bore our Lord Jesus in her womb for nine months, and in this way, she became the new Ark of the Covenant, for the new covenant which Jesus was to make with all mankind, was in her, and for that purpose she had been made holy and pure. It is because she is also the Temple of God, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, for as the Archangel mentioned, the Holy Spirit itself would dwell in her, and bore the Christ Incarnate in her.
How about us then? We who have been baptised in Christ, and also confirmed in the Lord, have received the Holy Spirit, and through the Most Holy Eucharist, which is our Lord’s very own Body and Blood, we have received Christ Himself into us. Therefore, the Lord dwells in us, in a way very much the same as Mary had Him inside of her. What is it for us then? What does it mean to us?
That means, just as the Lord had set her to be special by preparing her, to be immaculate without sin ever since she was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, we too must be without sin, for the Lord is in us! Remember what our Lord Jesus told His disciples and what St. Paul further affirmed in his writings? That we are all the Temples of the Holy Spirit, for God dwells in us, and we in Him. If we allow sin, wickedness and fornication to be in us, be it in flesh or in spirit, then we have defiled this Holy Temple, and as I have said, the price for sin, is none other than death.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is imperative that we take this opportunity presented to us, in the holy season of Advent, a season of preparation and contemplation, to think about our way of life, so that we may abhor sin and avoid committing anymore sin in the future. Keep our lives in the Lord and listen to Him speaking in our hearts, by strengthening our prayer and spiritual life, so that He may guide us in the true path, and that we may not fall into the temptation of Satan. Jesus prayed a lot and He always sought to communicate with His Father, and that is an example we should follow too.
May our Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, born and conceived without sin, pure and immaculate, pray for us all sinners, that we may be given new strength and courage by God, to live this life faithfully without sin, and seek the Lord always in our life. God bless is all. Amen.
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