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Thursday, December 8, 2005

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Immaculate Conception

Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Psalm 98
Luke 1:26-38

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born free

"The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women." —Luke 1:28

Mary was immaculately conceived to prepare her to conceive years later Jesus, the Son of God. "Flesh begets flesh, Spirit begets Spirit" (Jn 3:6). To be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35), to conceive the Holy One, she had to be free from sin and from our fallen nature. The Spirit and the flesh are directly opposed (Gal 5:17). The Spirit could not overshadow a person with a carnal nature without destroying her. If a human being touched the ark, he would die (2 Sm 6:7). Our fallen nature and God's holiness are incompatible. Jesus' incarnation implies Mary's immaculate conception. You can't have one without the other.

God did not intend our nature to be incompatible with Him. He "chose us in Him before the world began, to be holy and blameless in His sight" (Eph 1:4). However, by inheriting the sinful, fallen nature of our forefathers and by sinning ourselves, we alienated ourselves from God and became incompatible with Him by nature. "All of us were once of their company; we lived at the level of the flesh, following every whim and fancy, and so by nature deserved God's wrath like the rest" (Eph 2:3). Since our nature, or natural birth, has alienated us from God, we must put the old nature to death and be born again of water and the Spirit to enter God's kingdom (Jn 3:5). Yet how can the kingdom begin? How can He be born for us to be born again by the power of the Spirit? Someone must be born without sin for God to become man.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, guide me to all truth (Jn 16:13). By appreciating the masterpiece, Mary, may I be drawn to You, the Master.

Promise:  "Mary said: 'I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.' " —Lk 1:38

Praise:  Mary's Immaculate Conception awesomely bridged the infinite gap between fallen human nature and divine holiness.

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 19, 2005

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