Immaculate Conception: The Door Opening

Immaculate Conception: The Door Opening December 9, 2013

The Immaculate Conception is the door opening on our salvation.

It is God the Father, preparing the way for the birth of God the Son by first preparing a holy mother for Him.

The idea that God chose to enter the world as a helpless baby, born to a young girl and her carpenter husband in a backwater province of a conquered nation goes against everything we know and believe about what makes a person important.

We live in a world where might makes right and the biggest and meanest get to make all the rules. This disregard for the little people of the world was even more pronounced in that long-ago day when Our Lady was conceived. This tiny spark of humanity, who was destined to become the bearer of the hope of all humankind, was, if possible, even less important to the worldly world than her baby son would be at His beginning.

She was, after all, a girl in a world that to this day regards little girls as less than worthless. She was that half of humanity which was often exposed at birth and left to rot. Even today in large swaths of what we call civilization, baby girls are aborted because they are girls, and if they are born, killed shortly afterwards. Girls in these cultures often get less food, little education and almost no support in their development as people. They are subjected to brutalities ranging from female genital mutilation, to child marriages, rape and battering.

And yet, God chose, with every possibility possible at His disposal, to come into our world through the motherhood of a young woman. God entrusted Himself to a mother from His conception to His eventual death on the cross. It was a woman who gave Him life and who nurtured, shaped and reared Him into young manhood. This does not take anything away from Joseph’s contribution. Fathers are just as important as mothers. But today we are considering the one person who was with Jesus from conception to grave, and who then was there at Pentecost when the Church was born.

Mary is the mother of us all, the essential human contribution to the undoing of the curse of the Fall. She was prophesied at the Fall and she will be there at the real end when Jesus comes again.

And it began with her conception, when God re-created the lost innocence of Eden in a new Eve who would give birth to the salvific Child to undo our transgressions. This great re-wind started then, in her Immaculate Conception. It was the long-awaited door opening. This feast day is our chance to go back and re-learn what has been given to us by a young girl who, conceived without sin as the original Eve had been, did not falter in her mission as that earlier Eve did, but remained sinless until her own death.

God gave us Mary, and Mary, through her obedience and faith, gave us His son.

She is not, as some traditions try to treat her, a mindless incubator we bring out for Christmas pageants and then forget the rest of the year. Our Lady is woven into the story of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. Everything that is wholly human about Our Lord comes from and through her. She gave us her Son, first at His birth and then later at Calvary; and He in turn, gave us His mother.

The Immaculate Conception is a door opening on the end of hopelessness and death. It is a cell-sized point of light shining in the darkness of our own devices. Mary, Our Mother, began the way we all did, as a single cell made in the image and likeness of God.

Christ’s humanity is her humanity. Her dignity is our dignity. She is our mother for the ages.

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5 responses to “Immaculate Conception: The Door Opening”

  1. Thank you for this beautiful and moving portrayal of the Mother of God and mother of us all.

    And like all good mothers, Mary guides her children. In her last spoken words in the Gospels she says to the servers at the wedding at Cana, words that apply to us as well, “Do whatever he tells you.” That is the best possible advice for the ages–for all eternity.

  2. This fits very nicely with a short antiphon composed by one of the newest Doctors of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen, titled Hodie aperuit nobis:

    aperuit nobis
    clausa porta
    quod serpens in muliere suffocavit,
    unde lucet in aurora
    flos de Virgine Maria.

    was opened unto us
    a shut-up gate.
    For the serpent drew it tight, in woman choked—
    yet from it gleams within the dawn
    the Virgin Mary’s flow’r.

  3. There are one or two indications, too, that she developed into quite a powerful character – a man I knew says that she sounds like a Yiddisher Mama within the meaning of the act. Apart from her authorship of that formidable psalm of triumph, vengeance and redress, the Magnificat, there is the episode at Cana. Mary notices that the wine – that essential lubricant of any Mediterranean get-together – is running out. The wedding will be ruined, even if nothing worse happens (to judge by context and account, something like the whole village is probably present, and the wine suddenly running out would be the very thing for a public quarrel). She turns to her Son – clearly aware of Who she is speaking with and what He can do – and drops a hint the size of an anvil: The wine is running out. God weakly tries to protest – it’s none of My business, and My time has not come yet – and she simply ignores Him and tells the servants, do whatever He tells you to do. As a result, the whole party is not only kept supplied with wine, but with a much better vintage than before! Perhaps Jesus knew that His mother (unlike many women) could tell the difference! No wonder Catholics and other Christians pray to her to pray to Him on their behalf.