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December 8, 2018: The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading Genesis 3:9-15,20
Second Reading Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12
Gospel Luke 1:26-38

“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

Like the Assumption, our celebration of Mary’s Immaculate Conception tells us something very important about our common humanity: that is, humanity as man was meant to bear it “in the beginning”. Our belief that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, without Original Sin tells us as Catholics that Mary is exactly the type of human being God meant each of us to be. In the words of St. Paul, “God chose us in him[,] before the world began, to be holy and blameless in his sight, to be full of love.”

This is what our belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception says about her: that she was full of love. We do not believe that Mary is a goddess, or even super-human. The Blessed Virgin Mary is simply human. She is what each human person is called to be: “holy and blameless in God’s sight, full of love.” That’s how St. Gabriel salutes Mary in the Gospel: “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” God’s grace is a share in His divine love.

God the Father wanted the best possible mother for His Son, and so He granted the grace to Mary which would make her, for Jesus, a mother who would physically and spiritually give nothing to her Son but the same fullness of love which God means all of us humans to have.

Furthermore, because Mary is the Mother of Jesus, she is our mother as well. She is the Immaculate Conception, through whom Jesus entered the world. Through her each of us is healed, if we accept in faith the gift of healing that God wants to give us. In this season of Advent we meditate on the truth that God’s gift of the Immaculate Conception has made Mary, for each of us, not only the Mother of the Church. She is the model of what it means to accept Christ into our lives: through Him and in Him to be “full of love”, which is to be “full of grace”.