Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I must admit that for most of my life, I did not understand the meaning of the this solemnity. I thought it observed the miracle of Mary, a virgin, conceiving the Lord, Jesus Christ. Imagine my surprise when I learned that this feast day actually marked Mary’s own “immaculate” conception. From the very moment Mary was brought into existence, she was destined to be the Mother of God. Since she would need to carry the divine body of Jesus within her womb, she would have to be pure and without blemish.
I often find it difficult to imagine what it would have been like to know Mary as she was growing up. She was without sin, and other than Jesus Himself, the only human being who lived her entire life sinless. Being a sinful person myself, It is almost unfathomable to envision someone who did not sin, especially taking into account all the adversity she encountered throughout her life.
The gospel grants us a small glimpse of Mary’s demeanor when she gives the Lord her “yes.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
Perhaps the best way to conceptualize Mary’s character is to consider her ability to submit herself completely to the will of God. Amidst all the fear and alarm she must have felt, she never turned away from the Lord. This turning away from God is what causes us to sin. When I reject His desire for my life, it is because I think I know better than He does and try to take control of it. Mary gave her life to God without question; as Christians, this should be our ultimate goal–to give ourselves to our Lord and Savior. What a blessing to have Mary as the perfect example of what it means to be a servant of God.