On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, we read the story of our first parents’ fall and God’s promise of salvation through an offspring of Eve (Genesis 3).
As he read this passage, St. Jerome (342-420) understood that a new Eve would be the one to crush the head of the serpent. Like the first Eve, she too would be called the “mother of all the living,” because she would give birth to the Living One who would deliver us from death and create anew all who believed in him.
Mary’s immaculate conception marked the beginning of this new creation in Christ. Just as God created everything at the beginning, so now with Mary he began his wondrous act of re-creating everything, renewing the entire heaven and earth through the redemption that her son would accomplish. Throughout the ages, Mary has been recognized as the new Eve whose “yes” undid the “no” of the first Eve, just as Jesus is the new Adam who ushered in a new life for God’s people. In her humility and faithfulness, Mary stands as a sign of this new creation.
On this feast, we look particularly at the holiness of Mary who, in a unique way, was “chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless” before God (Ephesians 1:4). Mary was particularly open to the Holy Spirit. Her words, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), represent a profound consecration that was never taken back, but only deepened throughout her life.
May each of us allow God’s Spirit to remove any obstacles that would hinder his action in our lives. May we all respond to him with a perfect “yes,” as Mary did, and so know God’s blessing and favor. Just as God is renewing the whole of creation, he wants to renew each of us.
Points for Meditation:
Mary’s immaculate conception was carefully planned by the Father so that she could become a perfect vessel for his Son. As with Mary, God has planned every detail of your life. Look back on a particularly difficult time and ask the Spirit to help you see how this trial fit into God’s plan for your growth in Christ. Let this reflection give you a greater trust for the future that “in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
When Mary questioned how she, a virgin, would become pregnant, the angel Gabriel answered, “With God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Are you facing a problem that seems impossible to resolve? Ask the Lord to fill you with hope that with him, nothing is impossible.
In his Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul said that we who hope in Christ “have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory” (1:12). Mary lived for the praise of God’s glory. How does your life reflect the glory of God? How can you better live for the “praise of God’s glory”?
Father, we ask that you continue to re-create us in your image and likeness. Help us to be like Mary, who humbly embraced your will and rejoiced in your love. Fill us with your presence, as we look forward to the day when we will see you face to face.