|The Solemnity of the Immaculate
Conception of the Virgin Mary
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Immaculate Conception. This Church feast recognizes that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin. Not being subject to original sin was determined to be part of the plan to bringing the Christ child into the world. Pope Pius IX defined the present doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of December 8, 1854.
There are volumes written about the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. My focus on this feast is not so much about the doctrine itself, but rather how it could be a time to honor Mary. Christians have mixed emotions about honoring Mary, even Catholics disagree about her importance in the faith. Since Mary has enriched the experience of Christians walking with Jesus since the beginning, letís reflect on a few reasons why contemporary Christians would want to honor her. Christians honor Mary for her role as the Christ bearer, her model of faith in living Godís will and her guidance in knowing Jesus.
Reflecting on Maryís role in bringing Jesus into the world and initially forming him as his mother is a strong reason for honoring her. The early Christian church has many references to the fact that this a way how the apostles honored her. Her presence with the apostles during various post resurrection scenes speak to this fact. Christians also honor her for her part in Godís plan of salvation. I wonder how history would have changed if Mary rejected Godís invitation to bring Christ into the world?
Mary serves as a model of faith for Christians. Her acceptance after hearing Godís will as reported in todayís gospel reading shows that Mary was open to Godís plan despite the hardships and unknown realities of doing so. Maryís openness to following Godís will no matter what the cost serves as beacon for other Christians to follow. I have found strength in Maryís continual ďyesĒ response to following Godís unknown plan. She has been a friend during times of doubting Godís plan for my life.
Getting to know Jesus is essential to following him. Christians learn much from the scriptures about Jesus. They can also turn to Mary as disciple and mother of Jesus for knowing him better. Through prayer, Mary has strengthened my understanding of the gospel and knowledge of Jesus. I view Jesus and his words more simply and insightfully after connecting with Mary. Maryís guidance helps Jesus seem more human and his message more applicable to my life.
Todayís readings point to a woman of faith who played an essential role in Godís plan for salvation and who can strengthen Christians on their journey. You may want to spend time reflecting on Maryís role in your Christian life.
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