In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean.
But the angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever and his reign shall have no end.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be if I am a virgin?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child, and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”
Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.
The Immaculate Conception of Mary was declared by Bl. Pius IX in 1854. Centuries of liturgical celebration and theological discussions had preceded it. In 1830 the grace of the “miraculous medal” and the 1858 apparition of Mary at Lourdes confirmed the papal proclamation. But the source of this particular grace of Mary lies in the Gospel of today, and is the realization of the promised victory against Satan in the eternal design of God.
Yes, Mary was full of grace from the moment of her conception in the womb of St Ann. Demons never dominated her soul, because she was predestined to be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God who became man for us in her womb.
Can we live this celebration as personal “good news?” We can praise and thank God for the fullness of grace of Mary that prepares the advent of Jesus.
But also the “Immaculate Conception” is the starting point that will flourish in the glory of Assumption, through a life of faithfulness to Jesus. Our baptism is the starting point of grace that will support us until the final resurrection beyond our death. Let us behold in Mary the model and the intercessor of our holiness and salvation.
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