Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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. (Gen1:15)
A year ago, when we learned that the construction of the church of St. John Paul II Parish might be completed in November, our first choice for the date we wanted to celebrate the Mass of Dedication was on this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As it turned out, our Bishop already had a great commitment on his calendar, so the dedication of our church was scheduled for December 1, 2019. On this Solemnity we revisit: why was it our sincere desire to dedicate our church on the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary? The coat of arms of our Patron, Pope John Paul II, says it all: Totus Tuus. We want to walk on the path which recognizes the unique role that Mary had in God’s plan of redemption.
In fact, the entire Church expressed the importance of Mary in God’s plan of salvation in the1885 dogma which proclaimed, from the first moment of her conception, Mary–by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ–was preserved from original sin. Original sin is “the personal sin of disobedience committed by the first human beings, resulting in the deprivation of original holiness and justice and the experience of suffering and death. It also describes the fallen state of all human beings, including the experience of concupiscence, ignorance of God, and suffering and death” (Taken from the Glossary of the U.S. Catechism for the Adults).
God granted Mary this singular grace, i.e., being preserved from original sin from the moment of conception so that through her a path of salvation is open for humans who are wounded by the sin of our first parents. In the first reading for today’s Mass, after the Lord delivered his punishment on the serpent, He said this “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.” (Gen 3:15). He will strike…at his heel: the antecedent for “he” and “his” is the collective noun “offspring,” i.e., all the descendants of the woman. Christian tradition has seen in this passage, however, more than unending hostility between snakes and human beings. The snake was identified with the devil (Wis 2:24; Jn 8:44; Rev 12:9; 20:2), whose eventual defeat seemed implied in the verse because “the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8). This passage of Genesis is understood as the first promise of a redeemer for fallen humankind, the protoevangelium(St. Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. A.D. 130–200), Against Heresies 5.21.1).
To celebrate Mary conceived without the trace of original sin is the proclamation of God’s infinite mercy to the human family: when the destructive forces of sin entered the world, God had a plan to save us all. In this plan, God preserved Mary from the stain of sin, to prepare her womb to be the dwelling place of the Eternal Son of the Father. In the Gospel of Luke, the Archangel Gabriel expressed this truth in his greeting to her: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you . . . You have found favor with God” (Lk 28-30). The singular grace, conceived without the trace of original sin or the Immaculate Conception is an expression of why Mary is “full of grace” and “found favor with God.”
Although the new church was not dedicated on this great Solemnity, we can still follow the practice of our Patron, Totus Tuus, because — to use the words of the second reading today — in her Son, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ “we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:11-12).
Reading 1GN 3:9-15, 20; Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4; Reading 2 EPH 1:3-6, 11-12; Alleluia Verse
SEE LK 1:28; Gospel LK 1:26-38