Homily for Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Friday, December 7, 2018 (Vigil Mass)
5:30 PM – Sacred Heart, EGF
Focus: The Immaculate Conception finds its fulfillment in the Annunciation.
Function: Stay close to Mary so you too can say “yes!”
Concupiscence: a disordered tendency which comes from sin and inclines us to sin. “I do what I do not want to do and I do not do what I want to do”
“Return with me to the Garden of Eden…”
Imagine! Harmony of Intellect, Will, and Desires.
A Fallen Angel appears – Satan – the serpent in the garden, whose deception led to the conception of a lie in Eve’s heart, a lie that would be passed on to all of her children, and their children, and their children, down through the centuries. A lie that the Creator could not be trusted.
Eve ate from the tree of which God had forbidden them to eat. And we fell. We fell hard, and far.
All of creation fell. Humanity fell.
The intellect was darkened. The will was weakened. Desires became disordered.
Human beings were enslaved to sin. Created free, they were no longer truly free as they were in the beginning. True freedom is perfect virtue – the ability to desire and to choose the good: easily, without struggle, and promptly.
Yet, already at the very beginning, when all seems lost, God has a plan. The “proto-evangelion” – the first Gospel…
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers…
You: Satan, a Fallen Angel
Woman: an illusion to Mary
His Offspring – the fallen angels and the principalities and powers of sin, death, and Hell
Her Offspring – Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Mary, and those joined to him. Christ the Head and also we who are members of His Body.
All of this brings us to tonight’s Feast: The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. A New Beginning.
A New Eve who would truly become the Mother of all the Living, the Mother of those alive in Christ.
Believed through the centuries and formally declared by the Church when in danger of being challenged, the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was formally declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854 as an infallible dogma to be held definitively by the faithful:
The doctrine “that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin.”
She was immaculate. She was immaculately conceived.
Humanity had a second chance.
Eve was free from the stain of original sin in the beginning. A fallen angel appeared to her, she allowed the trust in her Creator to die in her heart, and she sinned. Creation fell.
Mary was free from the stain of original sin from the beginning of her existence. Like Eve, she was fully free to give her “yes” to God. And angel appeared by her, she allowed the trust in her Creator to flourish in her heart, and she conceived Life itself in her womb…Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life…Jesus Christ, the one who would rescue us from sin and death and restore us to Eternal Life!
Tonight’s Gospel is the fulfillment of tonight’s feast!
The Immaculate Conception finds its fulfillment in the Annunciation!
Mary was conceived without sin so that she would be free to give her “yes” at the Annunciation.
St. Anselm: “He who could create all things from nothing would not remake his ruined creation without Mary.”
Mary is the new Eve.
In Mary, God is solving the problem of sin that entered the world through Eve. Mary’s “yes”, her “fiat”, gives us Christ who came to set us free!
St. Irenaeus: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience. What the Virgin Eve had bound through her disbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed by her faith.”
And so, she is truly “Full of Grace” as the Angel Gabriel declares. Grace abounds in the one who was given the grace of original innocence – an Immaculate Conception.
A spotless, clean vessel was prepared in order to be filled with the best of wine – the Blood of Christ himself.
Let us indeed “sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds!”
One last thought for we who consider ourselves disciples of the Lord:
On the day of salvation, when Christ hung on the Cross, of those who were the closest disciples of Jesus, of his Twelve Apostles:
One had betrayed him.
One had denied him.
Nine had fled.
Only one remained.
John, the Beloved Disciple remained. He remained near the side of Mary at the foot of the cross.
Was it accidental that the disciple closest to Mary was the One who had the courage to stand under the cross? I think not…
John shows us that the disciple who takes Mary by the hand is able to follow our Lord all the way to Calvary.
Let us beseech Mary that she will inflame our hearts with the same love and courage that John had on Good Friday, so that, in the face of our own trials and temptations, when we like John who have not been conceived without sin feel the weight of concupiscence crushing us…we may, like John, and like Mary, give our “yes”.
 Tim Gray. “Mary as the New Eve” in Chapter IV of Catholic for a Reason II: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mother of God, page 55.