Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we celebrate one of the most splendid mysteries of the Church, and one that has been the topic of much controversy over the centuries: the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I am not so sure that I have the necessary skills to prove by Scripture the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, as your parish priest I just invite you to look on the purity of Mary with admiration, with a sincere heart. We have a lot to learn from her: she is the first believer in Jesus, she is the first Christian. We look on Mary as a model for our spiritual life and us. The virgin is not far away in time to be an example for each one of us, at least I feel her presence very close, and I am convinced that in this parish we love her very much. You know, every day we struggle against temptation and sin, or because of events in the past that have hurt us, so we can and we should pray to Mary to help us on our journey, to help us fight temptation and sin.

In our first reading we heard about Eve leading Adam into sin[1]. Today we see that our blessed Mother is the New Eve because at the Annunciation and through her whole life she restored the relationship broken by the first Eve. Today we wee that she is the New Eve because she is the mother of all those born into new life through the grace in Christ. This is a joyous occasion; this is a reason to thank her for her life and her obedience to God the Father.

[So] Today we celebrate the Eucharist in honor of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, and not just because of this special grace given to her but also because we regard Mary in a special way a mother to all of us, a mother whom we love and a mother who loves us, a mother to whom we can tell everything, a mother who wants what is best for us. The Virgin is always present. Our blessed mother cares for the children of the Church at all times. Are we aware of this?

Our blessed Mother is honored by the Church and has been since the beginning, but not worshipped, asked for her prayers, but not prayed to, recognized as having a special relationship with Christ, but never taking His place. Mary’s role is to point the way to her Son. We have to be very clear on this point.

Our blessed mother is important because of her humanity and her proximity to the divine. St Alphonsus Ligouri in his great book The Glories of Mary[2] suggested a great metaphor that could help us to understand the Immaculate Conception. That metaphor is the consecration of an Altar: Mary is consecrated by her Immaculate Conception to become a sanctuary fitting for the incarnate God. A stone table or an empty building becomes a holy place through sanctification[3], trough grace, trough the anointing.

So, in celebrating the feast, we do two things: firstly, we recognize God’s goodness towards Mary, his saving work of Grace on her life from the moment of her conception, and secondly, it is an example to us of God’s Grace intended for us, and which we will surely inherit because it was bought for us by the blood of the Lamb. We must be aware of this and be very grateful. So today we celebrate the Mass, because we are grateful and want to say this to God.

Already very close to Christmas we need to be attentive on the presence and protection of our blessed Mother, and to wait in hope and prayer. Let us be sure that our Lady waits with us this Advent Season for the redemption of all humankind. This is a big consolation, a big reason for joy, a reason to celebrate, and a time to keep silence and give thanks to God. Amen ■

[1] Gn 3:9-15, 20.
[3] Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) was an Italian Catholic bishop, spiritual writer, scholastic philosopher and theologian, and founder of the Redemptorists, an influential religious congregation. He was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris