December 8 – Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary, “the dawn before the day of Christ”

Instinctively, like the apostles in the Upper Room, we place Mary at the heart of the Church. She is part of the community of grace, because she is the first of the redeemed. Like us, she owes everything to God’s mercy, and what St. Paul says about the Church is true, even more so, of Mary: “Christ loved her, and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her by purifying her… for he wished to present her to himself in all her splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:23-27).

All of Mary’s beauty, all of her youthfulness of spirit, all of her nobility of heart, all of her greatness as a servant come from the Resurrection which is in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:24). And her holiness is the first fruit of the redeeming death of her Son.

Like us, but so much more than us, God chose her in Christ before the creation of the world, so that she would be blameless in his sight. Like us, Mary is a redeemed person, but something unheard of distinguishes her: she was redeemed in advance, and sin never had the slightest influence on her, nor did she have the slightest affinity with it; she never adhered to the three lusts that work in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. If Mary is indeed a member of the Mystical Body, she is an exceptional member, and in a sense, utterly apart.

It is this mystery of the wonders of God that we sing this morning with the Church; it is the dawn of a renewed world, “the dawn before the day of Christ”, a clarity of hope that cuts through the opacity of the world; it is the certainty that God is always working to make all things new. And how does the newness that comes from God’s heart enter our world? – In Nazareth! And so complete is God’s work, so fascinating is the model he sets before our eyes, that we instinctively begin to imitate her. 

We want to experience things like Mary does, and to look at people like Mary does. To see things more beautiful, all we have to do, without closing our eyes, is to look at them with our hearts. 

Jean Lévêque, Carmelite of the Paris Province
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
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