Immersed in Christ: December 8, 2020
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Praise God for Perfection
“The Lord has made his salvation known.”
He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.
We can’t imagine ourselves as “perfect”—even in heaven! Even if all our sins are forgiven, we will remember for all eternity the ways we have messed up. No one gets to heaven with an A+.
Except Mary. She was conceived without sin, lived without sin, and was taken up, body and soul, into heaven to shine forever, with Jesus, as the only perfect member of the human race.
Right. And wrong. The significance of Mary’s “immaculate conception” is not just that she herself was totally preserved from ever committing sin; it is that all of us who are reborn “in Christ” will be totally purified from every sin we have committed. We need to praise God for our own “immaculate conception” in order to appreciate Mary’s.
More precisely, ours is an “immaculate conclusion.” At the end of our lives, before we enter into heaven, we will be as free of sin as Mary was and is. It will be as if we had never sinned at all, from birth to death. Any sins we have committed will not only be pardoned; they will be “taken away.” Annihilated. Erased from the record. As if they had never happened (John 1:29; see the Gloria and Rite of Communion at Mass).
Mary’s immaculate conception is more a promise than an exception. What was uniquely true of her in time will be universally true of us all in eternity. We will “be holy and without blemish” [inmaculati in the Latin Vulgate translation]. The Prefaces for the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption call Mary “the beginning, the pattern, and the promise of the Church’s coming to perfection as the bride of Christ” and “our pattern (exemplar) of holiness” (1985 Sacramentary). In both Ephesians 1:4 and 5:27, the Church in her glory is called inmaculata and without macula. An immaculate conclusion.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception proclaims in the Church that everyone in heaven, without exception, is there with an A+. There is no record of sin attached to anyone at all. If we praise God for this often enough, we will begin to appreciate what it means.
DAILY PRACTICE: Be aware. Knowing you are called to be perfect, begin working toward it now.
ADVENT PRAYER: “Be it done to me according to your word!”