Monday, December 8, 2014

The Immaculate Conception of Mary Magnifies and Glorifies Jesus Christ

Listen to my homily given to priestly candidates:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Without Stain. Sin Macula. That is what Immaculate means. If you were God and you could make your own mom, I think you'd make her without sin too. That's exactly what God did. Jesus, true God and true man, the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father, saved his mother from sin, but unlike the rest of us, he applied the power of his Salvation at the moment of her conception. That is why we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary today, December 8th.

To make extra clear to all the faithful, the Church declared it a dogma. The most certain truths about Christianity are dogmas, the highest form of scriptural interpretation, i.e. what Scripture really means when it says, "I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman" (Genesis 3:15), or calling mary "full of grace" (Luke 1:28), in greek kecharitomene. Dogmas are things that we believe are not in any way the teachings of any man, but the teachings of Jesus Christ himself. The formula of this proclamation reads:
"We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful." -Ineffabilis Deus by Blessed Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854
Why is celebrating this Solemnity so important?

Mary reminds us that we were made for God not for sin. If it is possible for one of our race to never sin, it is possible for all of us to become free of it eternally. It also makes clear that it is possible for us to never sin gravely. Ever. Again.

She overthrows the spirit of the world

Mary is a good Mother. If we are dirty she is going to give us a good cleaning, even scrubbing behind the ears. One of the errors of the world, one of its doctrines that is shoved down our throats constantly is that sin is perfectly normal, not only that it is ok to do, but that someone who does not sin must be quite abnormal. This is a lie. We are not made for sin, the same way the most precious treasure chest is meant to hold riches, not to be thrown in the mud.

A fish is made for water. A man is made for air. Mix them up and they die. We are made for God. Takes us away or substitute and we too will die. Eternally.

She frees from the spirit of the flesh

Mary's Immaculate Conception is a privileged mystery, or truth about Jesus' relationship with her, that is powerful in freeing people from the sins of the flesh. By showing us that we were not made for sin, for lust, for impurity, for fornication, adultery, or even the interior gaze of fornication or adultery of our spirit, she shows us how to not make provisions for the spirit of the flesh. She shows us to not permit excuses. 

Adultery and fornication always claim very good excuses. You are tired? Your work is exhausting? You feel lonely and maybe your wife doesn't quite understand you all the time? You think that is justification to go looking elsewhere? You don't feel good about your marriage? Or perhaps you are single, or a committed celibate? You feel lonely and your life is hard? Your prayer life is dry and no one really is there for you even though you are there for everyone else? There are always excuses. Mary's Immaculate Conception reveals to us that no excuse is ever justifiable cause for sin. Sin is abnormal, and you were not made for it. Got trouble? Quit playing with it, or fussing about it and GIVE IT TO GOD!

She liberates from attachment to sin

Her Immaculate Conception is the refuge of all those who are entrenched in sin, who need a deep shock, some powerful God voltage, to boost them up out of their sins. This is especially true for those who struggle with obsessions of any kind, those things which seem to make sin almost involuntary, the deeper kind of bondage that Our Lady breaks: depression, deep self-absorbtion, alcoholism, drug addiction, anorexia, self-mutilation or cutting, porn addiction, or any lust addiction, or any kind of thing that renders us incapable of freely giving ourselves to God and to each other in self-mastery.

She pushes back hell's rusty gates

She is also promised to be the one who crushes the head of the demon in Genesis 3:15. "She shall crush the head of the serpent." The foul vermin of hell suffocate at her Immaculate fragrance, and to approach Mary is to depart from their clutches, to embrace heaven, to be held in eternity's embrace.

The Immaculate Conception inspires great confidence in God's power

Never has it been known that anyone ever went to her and was left unaided. To ask her is to receive from God. She is so perfectly united with Jesus as his chosen instrument through which he prefers to bestow blessings that to go to Jesus without going through intercession is like the fool who claims to see the stars better without a telescope, to view cellular development without a microscope, or to walk rather than take the speed train. She said, "My soul magnifies The Lord" (Luke 1:46). This is a true description of what she does.

Her intercession engenders humility

You wouldn't ask an important person, like the president, prime minister, or the pope directly for a favor unless you were their favored assistant. Guess what? You're not, but Mary is. Yes you have immediate access to the Father through Jesus and all you need do is ask Jesus, but the problem is that our asking is full of sin, self-will, and often impure motives. Mary's is not. No one goes to the Father except through Jesus (Jn 14:6), but no one goes through Jesus except through Mary. Jesus is the head of the Church but Mary is the neck through which the whole Body relates to him. Jesus is the King, but he has raised up his Queen, "the Woman clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet, and a crown of twelve stars," (Rev 12:1).

She reveals God's utmost tender kindness

Mama. You can't say it without thinking of a baby being nurtured and held, diapers being changed, or a baby crying out in need. That is who she is. She is your mama. God relates to us his power, especially through the power of Christ's Cross and glorious Resurrection, but it is the gaze of Mary, that we encounter the gentle invitation to discover God's sweet ineffable tenderness. Just take a look at any icon of Mary holding her baby, which seems to say, "Would you like to hold him?" Look at any image of Mary pregnant with God in her womb. The most obvious way of contemplating that the tinier and hidden God is in your life, even like a fetus, you would have to go through the Mother to communicate with the Son.

May Mary, the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, pray for us, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ!

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