Dec 8 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
On this and the following eight days, the Church celebrates, with particular solemnity, the Immaculate Conception of the ever-blessed Virgin Mary who, from all eternity, was chosen to be the daughter of the heavenly Father, the spouse of the Holy Ghost, the Mother of the Divine Redeemer, and, by consequence, the queen of angels and of men.
The consideration of these prerogatives convinced the most enlightened fathers and teachers of the Catholic Church that she was conceived immaculate, that is, without original sin. It is very remarkable that among the shining hosts of saints who have, in every century, adorned the Church, no one wrote against this belief, while we find it confirmed by the decisions of the holy fathers from the earliest times.
Pope Piux IX forced, as it were, by the faith and devotion of the faithful throughout the world, finally on 8 December 1854, sanctioned, as a dogma of faith falling within the infallible rule of Catholic traditions, this admirable prerogative of the Blessed Virgin.
It is, therefore, now no longer, as formerly, a pious belief, but an article of the faith that Mary, like the purest morning light which precedes the rising of the most brilliant sun, was, from the first instant of her conception, free from original sin.
- Patron Saint Index
After Adam had eaten of the tree the Lord God called to him. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ he asked ‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’ The man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.’ Then the Lord God asked the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman replied, ‘The serpent tempted me and I ate.’
Then the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this,
‘Be accursed beyond all cattle,
all wild beasts.
You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust
every day of your life.
I will make you enemies of each other:
you and the woman,
your offspring and her offspring.
It will crush your head
and you will strike its heel.’
The man named his wife ‘Eve’ because she was the mother of all those who live.
Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.
Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ,
to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence,
determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ
for his own kind purposes,
to make us praise the glory of his grace,
his free gift to us in the Beloved,
And it is in him that we were claimed as God’s own,
chosen from the beginning,
under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things
as he decides by his own will;
chosen to be,
for his greater glory,
the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
“I am the handmaid of the Lord, …, let what you have said be done to me.”
Today, we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We recognise Mary as the new ‘Eve’. As in the first reading of how Eve disobeyed God, we read in the Gospel of Mary fully trusting and obeying God. Eve brought about the sufferings, shame, guilt and original sin into the world but Mary brought our salvation, Christ to redeem and to save us.
Indeed, in more ways than one, we have much to learn from Mary, our Mother and our role model, who offered and surrendered her life to Christ. Her obedience in doing His will. Putting ourselves in the shoes of Mary, would we have been very uncomfortable? Would we say we are unworthy? Could it be a dream? Would we have doubted?
Mary could possibly have had some of these questions at that moment but it was her trust, her faithfulness to Christ that we, today, have our salvation. Would we have done the same?
As in St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in the second reading, “before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence…. to make us praise the glory of his grace”. Just as Mary was chosen, we too are all chosen by God. With the examples of the background of those He chose to be His disciples, we know that God doesn’t choose the qualified but He qualifies those He has chosen.
As we prepare ourselves for His coming this Christmas, let us not just learn to trust God but also ourselves. That God has a plan with our lives and it is to glorify Him with who we are, by our example. To trust that it wouldn’t be one of suffering and pain, but one with joy and love. As with Elizabeth and Mary, indeed, our God is a God of miracles.
Let your kingdom come in this world and your will be done in our lives as we place our trust in you.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the grace to be obedient and open to your will in our lives. To not be selective of what we like to do, but to surrender to your will. We also pray for the grace to trust. That even though things may be getting from bad to worse, if we are giving our best, to know that you are working in our lives and that you have a greater plan. Help us to continue to glorify you by our life. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for Mary, our Mother. Thank you for working constantly in our lives, through others and through us. Thank you for coming down as Man to be with us. Amen.