Monday, December 8, 2014

The Immaculate Conception as God's response to Original Sin

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

As we speak, our country is beset by the slowly moving powerful typhoon rightfully named “Hagupit.” We have yet to see the full extent of the damage this typhoon caused our country. However, the experts tell us that slowly moving typhoons leave more damage than those which strike quickly. Thus, we should pray to the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of the Philippines, to help our people weather and overcome the storm.

The name “Hagupit” is very appropriate for a typhoon of this magnitude. Hagupit means “scourge”. I do not like to imply that this typhoon is a punishment coming from God. Rather, we should see this typhoon as part of the consequences of the sin of Adam: “The harmony in which they found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. HARMONY WITH CREATION IS BROKEN: VISIBLE CREATION HAS BECOME ALIEN AND HOSTILE TO MAN. Because of man, creation is now subject to its ‘bondage to decay.’ Finally,…death makes its entrance into human history.” (CCC. 400) Indeed, we are witnessing not only an effect of climate change and global warming. We are seeing the effect of sin in action.

By his sin, Adam lost original holiness and justice not only for himself but for all human beings. Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants a human nature that is deprived of original holiness and justice. This deprivation, called “original sin,” subjected the entire created world to the domination of death. (CCC, 416-419) Before this reality of original sin, we are helpless. No one has the power to save himself from this slavery to sin and death. Such is the poverty of our human nature.
Only the Lord can redeem us from original sin. Seeing our helplessness in face of sin, God decided to send his Son to save us. In preparation of the Incarnation, God created his most perfect creature: the Blessed Virgin Mary, who will be the Mother of his Incarnate Son. In Mary, we find the restoration of original justice and holiness. She was untouched by original sin, never deprived of the glory of God, always full of grace. The Immaculate Conception is God’s masterpiece. Mary was conceived without sin not only in anticipation of the Incarnation and Redemption, but also to provide for us the image of what God wants to accomplish in us by redeeming us: a human nature in which the likeness of God is truly restored. In the Immaculate Conception, we have the evidence of the victory of Christ. God has wonderfully created man but even more wonderfully restored him in grace. “The world has been established and kept in being by the Creator’s love; has fallen into slavery to sin but has been set free by Christ, crucified and risen to break the power of the evil one.” (CCC, 421) In Mary, we see the new creation: creation set free from the power of the evil one, creation restored in the loveliness of innocence and grace. “Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.” (CCC, 411)

And so, we still find ourselves within the harsh combat with the powers of evil. We continue to struggle to do what is right. We continue to suffer the consequences of original sin. By looking up to the Immaculate Conception, our weary hearts are strengthened by the assurance that God will never abandon us to the evil one. If only we cooperate with his grace, we will also succeed in achieving our own inner integrity. Only by God’s grace…only with God’s grace will we be saved.

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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