First of all, let’s be sure we know whose conception we are celebrating today. It is Mary’s Immaculate Conception that we celebrate, not Jesus’. Some people come to Church today thinking that it is the feast of Jesus’ Immaculate Conception, but it is Mary’s. This feast celebrates that Mary was freed from sin from the first moment of her existence, from the first moment of her conception.
Also, our liturgical calendar is consistent with our theology. Today [December 8] is Mary’s conception; nine months from today we will celebrate her birthday, September 8. Likewise, we celebrate Jesus’ conception on March 25, with the feast of the Annunciation which we just heard in the Gospel; and, then, we celebrate his birthday nine months later, December 25.
Mary, the blessed mother of God, is full of grace from the first moment of her conception. She is full of God’s life, full of His love. Her perfection begins in the womb of her mother, St. Ann. Indeed God preserved her goodness so that she would have no stain of sin from the start and thus no imperfections. Mary is perfect, she always said yes to God, yes to Christ, I mean, she was conceived and raised in order to be ready for when the angel Gabriel appeared to her with a most profound message. He reveals God’s Plan that she will be the mother of the Savior of the world.
When Gabriel appeared to Mary, she was a teenager…about 14 or 16 years old. What a tremendous request God makes of Mary through the angel! And, Mary said yes! May it be done to me according to your word. Words that indeed are an invitation to meditate, to pray and to give thanks. Why? Well, because God could have chosen any way for his Son to come into the world, and yet, He chose a woman…He chose Mary to be the instrument of Salvation. He chose her to be the perfect vessel through whom Christ would come to us. This is the clue for our celebration.
On this feast, we see God’s Wisdom because He began her perfection from the very beginning. Mary had to be perfect, her womb had to be the perfectly pure vessel for Christ, how blessed is she to be the Ark of the Covenant! And of course Holy Scripture confirms this by saying that Mary “is most blessed among women”.
Mary, my brother, my sister, is the perfect model for us. She is the example because she always said yes to Christ. It is because of her yes to God’s Plan that Salvation entered the world. Everything we have in Christ, everything we have in our faith, comes to us through Mary. Today we thank God for her. The best way for us to say thank you is in this Eucharist. In a few minutes, we will have union with God through Mary. Thanks be to God, we have the Eucharist... through Mary.
It would be especially appropriate for us today to give her some kind of honor and veneration, in so doing, we are not praising Mary; we praise God alone and Mary is not God. Rather, we praise God for her and honor her. We thank God that she said yes her whole life to Christ. We thank God for her, and ask her to pray for us. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death ■
 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Readings: Gen. 3:9-15, 20; Eph. 1:3-6, 11-2; Lk. 1:26-38.