Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Genesis 3:9-15.20; Ephesians 1:3-6.11-12; Luke 1:26-38)

In the novel Our Lady of the Forest a sixteen-year old girl’s new found innocence resembles the Virgin Mary’s. After being abused and living as a flower-child, the girl’s life is permanently altered when she experiences an apparition of the Blessed Mother. She no longer seeks anything for herself but only strives to serve the good of others. The tale hints at the import of today’s feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

The reading from Genesis suggests Mary’s complete victory over sin when God excoriates the serpent. However, more tangible authority is found in the gospel when Gabriel’s addresses Mary as “full of grace.” Together with a long tradition, these two Scriptures moved Pope Pius IX, in consultation with the bishops of the Church, to proclaim that Mary was without sin all her life.

If we know ourselves well, we realize that we often fail to respond with charity. However, this reality, accurately called “sin,” will not last forever. Just as God’s grace preserved Mary from all sin, He will move us beyond ours. We do, of course, have to cooperate which should not be too hard if we believe that our reward is eternal life.