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)
Sin like sewerage contaminates everything it touches. The primordial sin of Adam and Eve rejects God’s authority. Its perversion does not end there, however. Both proceed to wrongly cast blame on others. The man accuses the woman of giving him the forbidden fruit. The woman says the devil tricked her into eating it.
The pollution of sin is not definitively arrested until Jesus dies on the cross. Even then, as we know, sin seeps through cracks in human make-up. Mary, however, shows herself in today’s gospel as the one exception to the universal occasion of sin. Faced with a divine mandate, she has no concern for herself. Her question about how she was to conceive and bear a son is a call for orders on what to do. Despite being given an exotic answer, she answers definitively. She will do what God wants.
Today we ponder the exception of Mary to the universality of sins in human persons. We may see it in two ways. First, we notice that what happens to Mary happens to us at Baptism. Christ frees us from sin so that our lives might, as the reading from Ephesians claims, give him fitting praise. Second, in Mary’s singular case, sin has not tainted her makeup. From the beginning, her will is dominated by her intellect which, in turn, is fixed on the Holy. She can tell the angel in today’s gospel without reservation, “’May it be done to me according to your word.’”