Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. December 8th 2016
Gen 3:9-15,20; Eph 1:3-6,11-12; Lk 1:26-38
The Immaculate Conception: Why she is so beautiful
There is a story about a conversation between God and Adam shortly after the Fall and their banishment from Paradise. Adam asked God, “Why did you make Eve so beautiful? I cannot believe how beautiful she is.” God replied, “I made her so beautiful so that you would fall in love with her.” Adam pondered that reply for some moments and then said, “But I have one more question that really puzzles me a lot. Why did you make her so dumb? I mean she was so easily deceived by the serpent and then she led me to fall too.” God smiled and responded, “I made her so dumb so that she could fall in love with you.”
Why did God make Mary, the new Eve, so beautiful and immaculate by the foreseen merits of Christ?
The Annunciation gives us the first answer: God made her so beautiful so that He fall in love with her, give Himself to her, and thus fulfill His plan through her. Just as God takes delight in the good that He has placed in His own creatures, God made Mary sinless from the moment of her conception so that God would fall in love with her and give Himself to her completely. In the eternal decree, the mission of the Eternal Word and the Spirit will begin by their loving union with Mary after her free and generous consent to the divine plan, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name Him Jesus… The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” God began to fulfil the purpose of His eternal plan by first of all making Mary uniquely beautiful by preserving her from the stain of Original Sin before uniting Himself inseparably to her in a fruitful embrace.
Mary is first of all informed or her great privilege, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” She was “greatly disturbed and pondered what this greeting might be.” She is next informed that God loves her by virtue of His prevenient grace which has made her lovable before God from the moment of her conception, “Mary, you have found favor with God.” Next, she is told that this privilege is for a specific reason, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name Him Jesus.” She believed in the presence and action of this grace and God’s gratuitous love for her and thus gave her wholehearted and free consent to the divine plan, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.” She thus fulfilled the purpose for which God gave her this unmerited gift of keeping her sinless from her conception.
Why did God make Mary so beautiful by the foreseen merits of Christ? We find a second reason in today’s Second Reading: God made Mary so beautiful so that we too can fall in love with her and also let God fulfil His own plan in us. St. Paul reminds the Ephesians that “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,” and He has done so for a purpose – that we be “holy and without blemish before Him… for the praise and glory of His grace that he granted us in His beloved.” All the heavenly graces, the source of our beauty before God, comes to us in Christ Jesus alone and, in the divine plan, Jesus came to us by the power of the Spirit through Mary. By the grace merited for us by Christ Jesus, we too are made beautiful and called to “exist for the praise of God’s glory.”
Today’s Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception reminds us that every grace that we receive from God transforms us, making us beautiful before God, and moves us to live for a specific purpose in the divine plan. Whether it is the sanctifying grace from baptism that make us God’s adopted children or the actual graces that comes to us moment by moment through prayer and the sacraments, moving us to grow in holiness, every divine grace comes with a purpose and beatifying effect on us. These graces all come to us from Jesus through Mary, who is forever “full of grace,” made beautiful by God for Himself and for us too.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, how firmly do we believe in the presence and action of divine grace in our lives? How firmly do we believe in our true beauty before God by His grace? How easily we ignore these graces or even begin to doubt them because of our sins, failures, and sufferings? The Evil One is doing to us the same thing that he did to our first parents, Adam and Eve – he is making us doubt that we are loved by God simply because of His grace. Can we honestly say that we make use of all the graces that we have received from God for the exact purpose that He has given them to us? Are we not reluctant to let go of our own plans and purposes in life? Don’t we sometimes seek for grace to our own ends? Don’t we need to humbly accept help from the woman whose beauty only attracts us to God and not to herself?
Mother Mary is given to us as our beautiful and sinless Mother to do for us what she did for the God-Man, Jesus Christ i.e. to help us believe in the graces we have received from God, to know that we too have found favor with God by His grace, and to allow His divine purpose to be fulfilled in us. By her sinlessness, she is the immaculate Temple of God and there is nothing in her that can remotely hinder our union with God. By loving Mary just like Jesus loved her and gave Himself to her, we share in that her invincible faith in God’s love for her and in her willingness to surrender her own plans to God so that His own purpose be fulfilled in our lives as it was in her own life.
We encounter Jesus, the author of all graces, in this Eucharist. His grace is given to us to change us, to make us beautiful before God, and to move us to fulfill a specific plan of God today. Jesus knows our weakness too and our need for help. His life of fidelity to the Father’s will began with Him giving Himself to Mary and ended with His entrusting us to Mary at the cross, “Woman, behold your son; son behold your mother.” He intends that we too love her just as He did and let the divine purpose prevail in our lives. That is why He has made His Mother Mary beautiful.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!