Reflection on Mass Reading for December 8, 2017
Today is the glorious Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary which has a long and complex history. It goes back to the understanding of the mystery of Mary in her privileged relationship with God and with the mystery of salvation, to which she is associated from the first moment of her existence, as being full of grace and love of God. In a particular way, the expression “full of grace” has been rediscovered in its most profound sense that she was prepared from the beginning of time for this remarkably pivotal role in all of Salvation. “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” (Gospel) The very words that the Angel Gabriel addressed to Mary at the moment that Jesus Christ became incarnate in her body and as true God and true Man, sacrifices everything for our salvation to Heaven. Traditionally, blue is the symbolic color for the Virgin Mary.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it in the following way: (490) To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace.” In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. (491) Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”
This is truly overwhelming for us today. God wants all of us to be saved, and only Jesus and God could accomplish that. Our humanity with all its weaknesses and damage still has the potential of true greatness. “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.” (Responsorial Psalm) The disobedience of Eve has been forgiven and humanity has been restored by the obedience of Mary. This is why the two are and will always be inextricably intertwined for all humanity. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (First Reading)
O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through her intercession, to come to You. Amen.