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(Part 16)


Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
December 9, 2019

Today’s readings:
Genesis 3:9-15,20
Psalm 98:1-4
Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12
Luke 1:26-38

If we are to be founded on the Rock that is Christ, we must also be grounded on devotion to Mary, his Mother. Why is Mary so special?

First, Mary is conceived without original sin. That is a distinct honor from God. God destines all to be holy, “as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.” (Eph 1:4). But we were born with original sin, and we need to strive through life to grow in holiness. But Mary was specifically favored by God and filled with His grace from conception. “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Lk 1:28). Another translation renders this as “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (RSV). In God’s call to us to holiness, we look to our Mother Mary as our model.

Second, if we are to be founded on Christ, we cannot be unmindful of the reality that Jesus the Son and Mary the Mother are intrinsically interwoven. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” (Lk 1:31). Mary’s human DNA is in her Son. Mary’s womb needed to be immaculate, in order to contain God Himself. Jesus, who as God transcends time and space, won salvation for all on the cross, but applied that salvation to Mary at the time of her conception in the womb of her mother. Now when we receive Jesus in holy Communion, his human/divine DNA is also ingested by us. From Jesus to Mary to Jesus to us, the divinely intimate link is inextricable.

Third, since we engage in spiritual warfare in our work of evangelization and mission, we look not just to Jesus but also to Mary. In this war, they are a dynamic duo. Jesus is the Redeemer, and Mary is his co-Redemptrix. When our first parents fell in Eden, God issued the promise of a Redeemer for fallen humankind. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.” (Gn 3:15). The serpent is Satan, the woman is Mary, and her offspring is first and foremost Jesus, but also ultimately all of us. Mary is right there in the midst of the conflict. Now we are called to be holy warriors in the army of Mary, led by our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus.

The crushing of the head of the serpent happened on Calvary, when Jesus died and on the third day rose again. Jesus and Mary are already victorious. “His right hand and holy arm have won the victory.” (Ps 98:1b). We share in that victory, even as we continue to struggle today against the forces of darkness. “The Lord has made his victory known; has revealed his triumph in the sight of the nations” (Ps 98:2). Now our task in to continue the fight, and bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. We work for the dominion of our Lord in the world today. “All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” (Ps 98:3b).

God has chosen us and called us, and sends us forth to do His work. “In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will” (Eph 1:11). God intends to do great things through us and destines us for greatness. That can only happen as we are founded on Christ and grounded on Mary.

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