Mary, the masterpiece of God’s merciful love
December 8, 2018
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THE title “Immaculate Conception” sounds familiar to Catholic ears. But the meaning which we should associate with this term may not always be as correct or as rich as it should be. In fact, some wrongly interpret it as “virgin birth,” while others seem prone to reduce it to Mary’s perfect chastity.
Fortunately, the majority understand the title “Immaculate Conception” correctly as the “preservation from original sin, in view of, and thanks to, the merits of Jesus Christ.”
For us, born in sin and soaked in sin, it is extremely difficult to get an adequate idea of all that her Immaculate Conception entailed for Mary.
“Immaculate Conception” means “total perfection” at the very beginning of Mary’s existence. She started existing as perfect as a creature can be, in all aspects of her being. She was the flawless realization of God’s creative and redeeming power. This means that God’s love filled her to capacity. As a consequence, she enjoyed an undisturbed harmony in her relationship with God, within herself, as well as with others and the rest of creation.
Although this privilege refers only to the instant of Mary’s conception, its effects/fruits lasted and grew throughout her life. They affected all that she did and was.
In fact, the absolute perfection which characterized Mary from the first instant of her existence was neither lost with the passing of time, nor did it remain static. The “perfect child” grew into a “perfect adolescent,” and eventually into a “perfect mature woman” who persevered in the state of total perfection till the end of her life. Perfection, in Mary, was a way of life. And all this, thanks to the dynamic character of God’s gift and Mary’s response to it.
Such a wonderful outcome should not be taken for granted, for Mary responded in freedom, not out of compulsion. Adam and Eve also had been created “immaculate.” Yet, when put to the test, they failed miserably. Mary was tested, too. But, at every test, she grew in her openness to God in humble acceptance of His will, and in the sincere desire to cooperate with her Son in the salvation of all men.
There is a lesson and a challenge for us all here. Though so deeply affected by the tragedy of the first Fall, at our baptism we, too, have been given a considerable degree of “immaculateness” not because we deserved it, but only because of God’s immense merciful love. The challenge consists in preserving such a gift in spite of all difficulties, in reconquering it after every defeat, and in growing in it by cooperating with the divine grace that is made available to us in so many ways.
Finally, the celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, right at the start of the “Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy,” is an invitation to all of us to take Mary as our model as we prepare to commemorate of Christ’s Birth. We should do our best to imitate her faith, generosity, availability, and eagerness to welcome the Lord in our lives.