Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2011
December 8, 2011
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort, Springfield, Va.
Advent is a time of preparation,
preparing to celebrate the first Coming of Christ in Bethlehem,
and preparing to meet him when he comes again in glory.
And so its altogether fitting that we sort of take a pause
from the subdued nature of Advent,
and joyfully celebrate this feast of the Immaculate Conception today:
the feast of Mary being prepared from the first moment
of her tiny little life in the conception of her mother Ann’s womb
to greet and serve and love Jesus.
All this preparing for Christ.
In a sense though, she was prepared
almost from the beginning of the human race.
Because we know how in the book of Genesis, God promised the devil that
he would put enmity between the devil and “the woman”
and “between the devil’s offspring and “the woman’s offspring.”
That’s exactly what he did: from the moment of her conception
he placed a wall between her and the devil,
a wall of holiness, of grace, so that she could become
part of God’s plan for a new beginning in Christ,
–so she could be the complete opposite of Eve: be the new Eve.
And all her life, God continued to shower his grace: she was,
as the angel proclaimed, “full of grace”
with no trace of anything good or holy lacking.
Everything she needed, and more, full of grace, to be perfect in her humanity.
And remember….since she was not touched by original sin,
she had no concupiscence:
no confusion in her heart or mind between good and evil,
like the rest of us have.
All this to prepare her to receive and bring into the world,
and be the perfect Mother for God the Son.
Even still, even with God’s divine plan,
his creation of her in the womb of Ann without a touch of sin
even with her special protection,
and even with her clear mindedness, and pure heart,
Even still: God would not save us without us:
she like Eve, still had one of the greatest gifts
that God bestows on all human beings:
a free will.
Imagine, with all that preparation, all that protection,
all his plans could have been ruined,
all creation lost with no hope of salvation, without her:
“let it be done to me according to your word.”
Even though she had been as completely prepared as possible,
she could have said “no.”
And Christ wouldn’t have been born,
and we wouldn’t be preparing now during Advent
because there would be no Christmas.
There would be no sacrifice of the Cross for our redemption,
no resurrection of the dead bringing us new life.
But all of this did happen, but not without her “yes”
It is amazing to me that anyone could doubt the Immaculate Conception.
Apart from the Scripture references to it,
how can we even imagine that God the Father
would have entrusted his Son,
to someone corrupted by sin.
Or that God the Son would allow his Mother to be touched by his enemy,
and bear the mark of the traitor, Eve.
Or that the Father and Son would allow the enemy, the serpent,
the evil one, the father of lies,
the prince of darkness, and the murderer of man,
how could we imagine that God would allow that horrible creature
to have anything whatsoever to do
with this most magnificent creature,
mocking the Eternal and all-Powerful God by pointing to
the mark of his work in original sin
marked plainly on the core of her very being, her soul?
And on top of all that, how can anyone imagine that God would allow
his entire plan of salvation to hinge on the human will of a little girl,
without giving her every possible gift and protection,
from the very beginning of her existence in her mother’s womb.
No, from the very beginning he planned to prepare her for perfection,
to be the perfect Mother.
To receive his love completely and without confusion or fear.
And to be able to return his love without hesitation, and in complete freedom.
And love must be freely given to be true love.
And so we read in today’s Scripture,
the magnificent creature, prepared from all time for this moment,
gives her love completely to God,
accepts his will perfectly.
Some point out that Mary seems to hesitate, asking
“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
But this translation is rather misleading…what she’s actually saying is
“what am I to do….tell me, so I can do it.”
No hesitation, just asking for instruction.
And so, prepared from all time,
she begins to prepare for the birth of God the Son.
And she goes on to prepare him in his humanity to be the Saviour of the world.
Advent a season of preparation.
Today, we do not pause our preparation,
but instead look to the one who understands
preparation for the coming of Christ better than anyone.
We look to her and we see that we too are given the grace by Christ
to be ready for him.
We too are called to be without sin,
so that we can receive his love completely and without confusion or fear.
And so that we too can freely chose to give ourselves completely to him,
and without hesitation.
Today, let us turn to that most magnificent creature,
the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception,
and ask her to help us in our preparation.
Ask her to show us and teach us how to prepare,
and to protect us from sin in our daily lives.
And let us turn to her and ask her to pray for us, her children,
that we may be prepared, that we may be made worthy,
to receive the promises of her Son,
Our Lord Jesus Christ,
this Christmas, and when we see him face to face.
Holy Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God, pray for us.