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Feast of the Immaculate Conception - 8th of December 2009


Today we celebrate the immaculate conception and it is probably the least understood teaching of the Catholic Church. Today offers us an opportunity to understand it and to appreciate how important it is to our faith. 
 
Basically, what the church asks us to believe is that Mary was conceived without original sin. Now, many of us may be wondering why this is really so important but, like all the teachings about Mary that we hold to in the church, the key is to be found in Jesus. 
 
The issue to be considered is the incarnation. Was Jesus really God or was he simply god-like. We believe that Jesus was really God. If he were not our salvation would not be a real possibility. Jesus, as we can read in the letter to the Hebrews, offered the perfect sacrifice to God because he fulfilled all of the conditions necessary for a sacrifice. He was fully human and so could represent humanity. He was fully God and so was in a position to accept the sacrifice in a perfect way. He was without sin and so he was a pure offering. To be without sin it was necessary for him to be born from someone who was herself without sin. In other words, Mary was preserved from the normal human condition of original sin because Jesus was to be born. 
 
Our salvation was part of the plan God had for us and for this plan to take place Mary’s role was necessary. These things might seem very far from our daily lives because we don’t think in terms of sacrifices.   However, if we can move out of our own mindset for a moment and ask ourselves the fundamental question of how is it possible for human beings to have a relationship with God we can gain an insight into why all of this is important. 
 
God is so completely beyond our comprehension that we have no way on our own of drawing close to God.  If we have no relationship with God then the whole point of our salvation is lost. God wills to save us because he loves us. Our love for God will always be imperfect because we are limited and finite whereas God has an infinite capacity to love us. God became human so that we humans could become God. 
 
The incarnation which we are preparing to celebrate at Christmas is a celebration of the high point of our human dignity – we are children of God. The immaculate conception is a reminder to us that the birth of Jesus was not just an event that dropped out of the sky. It formed part of a plan of God’s love for us to ensure that we would be able to draw close to God in a long-lasting and meaningful way.



Article posted on 8th of December 2009

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