Daily Gospel Reflection: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Bishop Robert Barron
December 7, 2023
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception—the truth that Mary, through a special grace, was preserved free from original sin from the first moment of her conception. Were this not the case, the angel would not have referred to her at the Annunciation as kecharitomene (full of grace). Why would God do such a thing? And wouldn’t this imply that Mary does not need to be redeemed?
The traditional answer is that God wanted to prepare a worthy vessel for the reception of his Word. Just as the Holy of Holies in the temple was kept pure and inviolate, so the true Ark of the Covenant, which is Mary herself, should all the more be untrammeled.
Bl. John Duns Scotus explained that Mary is indeed redeemed by the grace of her Son, but since that grace exists outside of time, it can be applied in a way that transcends the ordinary rhythms of time. Therefore, Mary, by a kind of preemptive strike, was delivered by Christ’s grace from original sin.