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The Immaculate Conception

Submitted by on Monday, 6 December 20102 Comments

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Pope Benedict XVI on the Immaculate Conception

The 8th of December we celebrate one of the most beautiful feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary: the Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception. But what does it mean that Mary is the "Immaculate"? And what does this title tell to us?

First of all we refer to the biblical texts of today’s liturgy, especially the great "fresco" of the third chapter of the Book of Genesis and the account of the Annunciation of the Gospel of Luke. After original sin, God turned to the serpent, which represents Satan, he curses him and adds a promise: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15).

It is the proclamation of revenge: Satan at the beginning of creation seems to have the upper hand, but the son of a woman will come who will crush his head. Thus, through the woman’s offspring, God himself will triumph. That woman is the Virgin Mary, from whom was born Jesus Christ who, with his sacrifice, has defeated once and for all the ancient tempter. Because of this, in so many painting and statues of the Immaculate, she is represented in the act of crushing a serpent under her foot.

The evangelist Luke, instead, shows us the Virgin Mary who receives the annunciation of the heavenly messenger (cf. Luke 1:26-38). She appears as the humble and authentic daughter of Israel, true Zion in whom God wishes to make his dwelling. She is the young plant from which the Messiah must be born, the just and merciful King.

In the simplicity of the home of Nazareth lives Israel’s pure remnant from which God wishes to have his people be born again, as a new tree that will extend its branches in the whole world, offering all men good fruits of salvation. As opposed to Adam and Eve, Mary remains obedient to the Lord’s will, with her whole self she pronounces her "yes" and places herself fully at the disposition of the divine plan. She is the new Eve, true "mother of all the living" — that is, of all those who by faith in Christ receive eternal life.

Dear friends, what immense joy to have Mary Immaculate as Mother! Every time we experience our frailty and the suggestion of evil, we can turn to her, and our heart receives light and comfort.

Also in life’s trials, in the storms that make faith and hope vacillate, we think that we are her children and that the roots of our existence sink in the infinite grace of God. The Church herself, even if exposed to the negative influences of the world, always finds in her the star to direct and follow the route indicated by Christ.

Mary is in fact the Mother of the Church, as Pope Paul VI and Vatican Council II solemnly proclaimed. While, therefore, we render thanks to God for this wonderful sign of his goodness, we entrust to the Immaculate Virgin each one of us, our families and the community, the whole Church and the entire world.

Source:Zenit (December 2009)

Related Articles from Zenit Archives

Genesis 3:15
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
15I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
Luke 1:26-38
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
26And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,
27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.
30And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
31Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus.
32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.
33And of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?
35And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren:
37Because no word shall be impossible with God.
38And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

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