Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. On this day, we celebrate one of the four great Marian Dogmas, that is the Immaculate Conception, as defined by the Church in the state of Mary, being the Mother of God and the bearer of the Lord and Saviour as Immaculate or free from the taint of the original sin. And it was also part of the tradition and teachings of the Church that Mary has remained free from sin throughout her life and is full of grace.
Let us now go through in detail the meaning and significance of today’s celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. First of all, it does not refer to the birth of Mary, which we celebrate instead nine months from now in the Feast of the Nativity on the eighth day of September. The Immaculate Conception refers to the moment when Mary was conceived in the womb of St. Anne, her mother. It was the moment when she came into existence as willed by God, and it is indeed important that Mary was conceived in such a way by the will of God.
How is that so? That is because as we heard from our first reading today taken from the Book of Genesis, mankind fell into sin from the beginning of time when Adam and Eve, our first ancestors, listened to the lies and falsehoods of Satan instead of obeying God and His commandments. God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruits of the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Gardens of Eden, but Satan managed to persuade mankind to disobey the Lord, by saying that if they ate the fruits, then they would become like God, in knowing things good and evil.
Through that disobedience, sin entered into Man’s existence, because sin is borne by disobedience. Sin has corrupted our human nature and existence, and what was all good and perfect by God’s design at creation, had been stained by the taints of sin. This was mankind’s original sin, and ever since then, the corruptions of sin had affected man, from generations to generations, enslaving them under its hold and power, just as Satan intended, as he desired our destruction and downfall.
However, as we also heard in our first reading today, the Lord punished Satan and also foretold the coming of His salvation that would come through the children of Man, through a Woman who would crush Satan beneath her heels. Through this revelation, even right from the beginning of time, God already had in mind, all knowing as He is, what He would do for our sake, as we are truly His most beloved ones among all the creation. Later on, He would repeat this again and again through the prophets, particularly the prophet Isaiah, who spoke to the then king of Judah regarding the coming of the Messiah through a Virgin and a Woman.
This Woman is indeed none other than Mary, whom God by His special grace hallowed and made holy, immaculate and pure, and free from the taint of original sin. We may wonder how God did this, or if this was possible, but we must not forget, that God is Almighty, all-powerful. What we may think or assume to be impossible, is perfectly possible for God. Mary was special because although she is still a created being, a human person just like us, but by that singular grace of God, she had been preserved from the taints and corruptions of sin.
That was why the Archangel Gabriel during his time visiting Mary, in the Annunciation and as we heard it in our Gospel today, hailed and proclaimed Mary as being ‘full of grace’. Mary was indeed in a state of perfect grace, bestowed on her by God, and she was completely faithful and obedient to the will of God. She was hallowed and prepared such because of her role, which the Archangel Gabriel revealed, that she was to be the Mother of God, and the Son born of her known as the Son of God Most High, Jesus, the Saviour of the whole world.
If we are to understand the importance of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, then let us all look upon the Ark of the Covenant. Mary is often referred to as the New Ark of the (New) Covenant. Why is that so? That is because her Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, is the One Who made the New Covenant between us and God, sealed by the sacrifice He Himself offered on the Cross and by the Precious Body and Blood that were broken and flowing down from the Altar of the Cross. Mary bore Jesus in her womb for nine months before He was born into this world, which we celebrate at Christmas.
In the old Ark of the Covenant, God commanded Moses to order the people to make the Ark from the finest and most precious materials, from the finest gold and wood, as well as other worthy shapes and materials. God hallowed it and the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, the manna and the staff of Aaron were placed inside that Ark. And the Ark was considered so holy that no one was allowed to touch the Ark. In one occasion, during the transfer of the Ark back to Jerusalem, one of the priests touched the Ark when it slipped. He was struck dead almost immediately.
Then, in the case of Mary, as the New Ark, she bore not just a mere tablets of the Commandments that God had written, but God Himself in the flesh, the Law personified, and not just the bread of manna, but the Bread of Life, the Lord, the Giver of Life. Mary also bore the Good Shepherd and Saviour of all, and as such, if the old Ark was so revered and so hallowed, then how can one who was to bear God Himself in her not be hallowed and made immaculate as well. Unlike the old Ark, made by the hands of men, the new Ark, Mary, was made by God to be worthy of His Presence. The Sinless One and the Perfect God could not have been contained in a womb tainted by sin.
That is what the meaning of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and its importance to us is all about. Unfortunately there are still many among us, even among us Christians who still did not know what the Immaculate Conception is, and many of us are still ignorant of the importance of the Immaculate Conception. That is why today, as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we have to realise first of all, that God’s love for us has made our salvation possible, as He resolved to save us through His coming into this world, through the womb of His Immaculate Mother.
And then, the Immaculate Conception of Mary shows us how we have been originally intended to be, as creatures that are perfect and free from corruption, perfect and all good as God had intended us to be. We were never meant to suffer in this world and from the consequences of our sins. But, our inability to resist the temptations of sin, its allures and power caused us to end up in this predicament. But God has shown us the way out, through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour. And His mother, Mary, the Immaculate Conception is our inspiration and guide to Him.
Let us all resolve to commit ourselves anew to God, in the footsteps of our Blessed Mother, Mary, the one conceived without sin, the Mother of God, of Our Lord and Saviour. Let us do our best to remain faithful to God and to keep our trust and faith in Him. Let us all do our best to resist and reject the temptations to sin, living our lives to the best of our abilities in our obedience to God, inspired by the faith, dedication and obedience that Mary has shown in her actions and commitment through life in the mission entrusted to her, even to the foot of the Cross.
May the Lord be with us always, and may He empower us all with the courage to serve Him, and to strive to be always worthy of Him. May God bless us and all of our good efforts for the greater glory of His Name. Holy Mary, Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception, conceived without the taint of sin, pray for us sinners, now and always, and lead us to your Son. Amen.