Today we celebrate the gift which God graciously bestowed on Mary who had been chosen to be the vessel through whom God would take on our human flesh. What God gave to the mother of His Son pictures for us what grace intends for all of us! What God gave to Mary and to us is just that – a gift, something that neither she nor we could have produced ourselves. Each of us in every age and time, Mary included, receives God’s saving grace through the Holy Spirit that dwells in the Church. Mary received that gift of salvation first as she was conceived. The rest of us receive the gift after we are born into the world and bathed in the waters of Baptism.
We observe in Mary Immaculate the first and untainted example of the gift and love God intends for every human being. The great theologian Karl Rahner wrote that Mary is like us in receiving the gifts of God’s grace, but the main difference is that she had them from the beginning of her earthly life. Too, in her willing and generous response to the angel she has modeled for all of us the responsiveness to God’s grace that allows that gift to change us. Mary, Mother Immaculate, teaches us to be more open to what God intends to do in us.
The passage we proclaim today from the Book of Genesis teaches us that God set this plan in motion when the first human being turned away from God’s plan. St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians reminds us that God always intended that we would be without blemish. God did not create us for sin. God created us for holiness. The familiar Gospel for today’s feast recalls Mary as she models the image we were all meant to be – open to God’s will in our lives.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator