Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Genesis 3:9-15,20; Psalm 98; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38
Conceptions are about new beginnings. Every conception of a child is an opportunity for this world to be filled with grace for every human being is a blessing chosen by God.
Regretfully conceptions are not always welcomed, blessed events in the life of many people. This new life and opportunity is often experienced as a nuisance, a mistake, or a burden. And that can be understandable when a conception is the result of rape, immaturity, or lust. A child born into extreme poverty or violence can be seen as a deep sadness, liability or even a threat to the well-being of a family. Fear or indifference can cause new beginnings to be terminated at their inception. Understanding a situation though is not the same as confirming that situation.
The conception of a human being today should cause us to reflect on numerous contemporary issues:
- population growth on a planet with limited resources which leads to the continued discussion of contraception;
- men’s attitudes toward women, especially in the light of rape on college campuses and the recent examples of the treatment of women by athletes;
- women’s health issues;
- poverty and hunger which affect primarily women and children throughout our world;
- child mortality and disease;
- physical and sexual abuse toward children and women and human trafficking for exploitation;
- the trafficking of infants;
- child and adult pornography;
- and the care and education of children.
These are the moral issues that a new beginning of life will confront. If humanity is ever to deal with these issues we need to ask ourselves:
- What is our attitude toward human life(?), the parents as well as the child?
- How will we support people confronted by difficult and complex moral decisions?
- How do we Christians balance legitimate moral and social concerns with Gospel values?
We know nothing about Mary’s birth, family life and upbringing. The conception of Mary by her parents Anna and Joachim was like any other human conception and many of the contemporary issues we confront were the same in the Greco-Roman world. As a human family we have been slow to respond to the issues that surround children and women.
The conception of a child and our belief in the Immaculate, the sinless, Conception of Mary must cause us to also reflect on God. For all new beginnings and new life originate in God.
The passage from Genesis and our Catholic belief offer us…the contrast between the sinfulness that arises from disobedience and the Sinless Virgin which is God’s response to us. Contrasted are the shame and embarrassment of the knowledge of nakedness and God’s overshadowing of Mary by the Holy Spirit. Contrasted is human arrogance with the example of human humility in the presence of God.
This sinless conception of Mary confirms that God has chosen Mary and us to be holy and without blemish so that we might by our lives praise God.
Having been chosen how do you and I respond?