Liturgical Colour : White
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today is a great feast for the Church, and for all of us. Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was declared by Pope Pius IX over one and a half century ago, after our Lady showed herself to St. Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes in France.
She revealed to St. Bernadette, the truth about her Immaculate Conception, that is, Mary the mother of our Lord Jesus, was born without sin, pure and immaculate, because as the mother of our Lord, it is only fitting that His mother, just as He is, free from all kinds of defilement of sin.
The Church and the tradition of the faith had for long held a view somewhat similar to the concept of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, even since the early Church, but the apparition of the Blessed Virgin to St. Bernadette in Lourdes confirmed the teachings of the Church, and that was how we come to have this Solemnity, the great feast in honour of the Immaculate Conception of the mother of our God.
All of these, brothers and sisters, were part of the grand plan of salvation God had planned from the very early beginning. Ever since mankind fell into sin, the Lord had planned it all, even to the smallest of details, on how He is going to save us all. He knew everything even long before the things actually happened, simply because, He is God.
Then one may ask, how come then God did not try to stop Adam and Eve from disobeying Him by eating the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? He is God right? Certainly that is within His ability? If He knows everything, then He should have known that His most beloved creations would disobey Him because of the trickery of the devil, right? Then why did He not act for the sake of our ancestors?
Yes, these are the natural questions that will undoubtedly come to our minds as we read this passage. Certainly if God had prevented them from disobeying Him, then we will all live in paradise today right? After all mankind had been created and given the world as their dominion, and the beautiful Garden of Eden to live in. But sadly no, that is not how things are supposed to be.
God can easily impose His power and make things according to what we had thought, but most importantly, God gave mankind free will, and it is that free will that God has bestowed on us, the freedom to choose, whether to do something in line with God’s laws and ordinances, or to do things against the Lord and His laws.
And mankind chose to disobey the Lord and listen to the temptations of devil. They were then still innocent, pure without any trace of sin, for sin was unknown to mankind when they were created. But they made the wrong choice, out of their curiosity, and suffered the consequences. Sin entered into the world of men.
God punished mankind and the devil for their disobedience and the rebellion against His will, but He did not leave men empty-handed. For He loves all of His creations, from the smallest to the largest, and from the lowliest of all creations, to us, the most beloved ones that He created, the ones He created in His own image.
That is why He gave to us hope, by saying to our ancestors, that despite the difficulties that they and their descendants, including us, have to suffer, as a consequence for our disobedience, and despite that the devil will continue to hound us and try to trap us into damnation, note the words : “the snake will clutch at your children’s heels”, God gave us a hope.
That the woman will crush the head of the serpent, and in that sentence, lie the secret of God’s ultimate plan for salvation. That woman, as you all should be able to guess, is Mary. And in another passage it is said that the woman will bear the child, and the child will be named Emmanuel, which means God-is-with-us. And yes, that Emmanuel is indeed Jesus, because Jesus who is God and with God, has descended through Mary to be with us, as Man like us, and hence, God-is-with-us.
Through Mary, the salvation of the world was born, and through her, the final defeat was dealt on Satan and his plans to doom mankind into damnation in hell with him. For Satan was jealous of the power of God, and aspired to sit in His place, but he was defeated and cast down, and he planned his revenge on mankind, God’s most beloved creation, but God did not just let Satan have his ways, out of His love for all of us.
Mary, the woman, became the conduit, the vessel, through whom God made salvation possible for mankind. It was Mary’s complete trust and obedience in God that made all these possible. Her answer to the Archangel Gabriel showed her perfect faith in God and the purity of her heart, soul, and being. “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me as God wills it.”, such an answer indeed.
And because she was to bear the Lord Himself in her, in flesh, it is not right for Mary herself to be tainted with sin as we are. This is because you all know the intimate bonds present between mothers and their child. Indeed, it is truly flesh from the mother’s flesh to the flesh of the infant’s flesh. Therefore, if Jesus who is Lord incarnate as Man is without sin, His mother too must be free from any kind of sin, no matter how small or insignificant the sin is.
That is why today we celebrate this solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Lord made it since the very beginning according to the plan of salvation, that Mary was made special, set apart from any other human, that is without the taint of sin. Is it possible for God? Certainly. The Lord definitely has the power to do so, as after all, He is indeed God. He made Elizabeth to conceive a child in her old age, John the Baptist, the one who would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord, the Messiah.
What is important today, brothers and sisters in Christ, is that while we rejoice and celebrate the conception of this wonderful woman, through whom the world would later get its salvation from, we too should reflect on our own sinfulness, reflecting on the unworthiness that kept us separated from the Lord. And let us remember that our sins have been redeemed by the sacrifice of the Son of this wonderful woman, yes, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross as the Lamb of sacrifice, taking away our sins and replacing them with grace and blessings.
Hence, as we go deeper into the season of Advent, preparing for the celebration of the birth of our Lord at Christmas, let us seek to be prepared for the coming of Jesus. Remember that He promised that He will come again at the time of His choosing, to judge the living and the dead, all of us included, and He will pick those whom He considered worthy, that is those who had turned away from their sinfulness and look up towards God and strive to reach out to His grace.
Let us all make best use of this Advent season, and let this blessed season be an opportunity for us to be closer than ever to our Lord Jesus, through His mother Mary, the pure and immaculately conceived woman, the promised salvation of our God. Mary, Mother of God, holy and pure, immaculate as snow, pray for us, and intercede for us before your Son. Amen.