Saturday, 1st Week of Advent
That Mary was immaculately conceived has been part of our Church’s Tradition right from the Apostolic age and is now a dogma – a tenet beyond debate.
Does that mean that Mary was superior to us humans? Was she immune to sin unlike us? Was she exposed to the possibility of sin?
Before I address these questions and more, allow me to bring you to the context by citing certain examples. The seat-belt of a driver, the parachute of a skydiver, the lifejacket of a swimmer, the safety-net below a trapeze artiste or a tightrope walker are security measures to avert the harm or danger that it entails.
Was Immaculate Conception one such security measure to provide Mary immunity from sin?
Let’s compare the situation of a trapeze artiste who does not have a safety-net below him and that of a tightrope walker who has a safety-net but is unaware of it. The fear and anxiety of the tightrope walker is as real and intense as that of the trapeze artiste. He is no less vulnerable than the trapeze artiste.
Such was the case with Mary as well. Yes, she had the singular grace of being immaculately conceived, of being undefiled by original sin. Yes, she had immunity from sin all through her life. But she wasn’t aware of it. Not one moment or instant of her earthly life was it known to her. She was absolutely oblivious to this truth. How sure am I about it? As much as the Word of God itself: ‘Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean.’ (Lk. 1:29) She was dumbfounded when angel Gabriel addressed her as “Greetings, favoured one…” She was totally unaware of being favoured among the entire human race with this singular grace of immaculate conception.
She was as susceptible and vulnerable to temptation and sin as much as we are. Her immaculateness didn’t stop with her conception but encompassed her whole life. This singular grace was not one of evasion but of confrontation. She was exposed to temptation and confronted the possibility of sin. But she chose not to yield to sin and it was as difficult as it is for us. Her fiat was not for a moment, but for life. She pledged herself as the handmaid of the Lord, conforming herself to God’s will, not to sin.
On this Solemnity, let’s have recourse to our Immaculate Mother who knows our plight. Let’s seek her maternal aid to overcome sin and to lead a life pleasing to her Son Jesus our Lord.