Saturday, December 23, 2017

Immaculate Conception: Creation, Fall,, Redemption

Jesus, I trust in you!

Before original sin, there was first original holiness and justice. “The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with creation around him…” (CCC 347) Adam and Eve were constituted in original holiness and justice wherein they shared in the divine life. They lived in Divine intimacy and in doing so, were exempted from suffering and death. Living in the garden was the sign that our first parents enjoyed God’s friendship.
But all was changed when man allowed himself to be seduced by the devil. The serpent disguised as good and pleasurable what is actually fatal. “Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in the Creator die in his heart and abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command.” (CCC 397) In that sin, man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirement of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Constituted in a state of original holiness, man was destined to be fully ‘divinized’ by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to be ‘like God’, but ‘without God, before God, and not in accordance with God.’ (CCC 398) Because of their first disobedience, Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness. They became afraid of God of whom they have conceived a distorted image – that of a God jealous of his prerogatives. The control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered, the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relationship henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation became alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject ‘to its bondage to decay…Death makes its entrance into human history. (CCC 400) The personal sin of Adam and Eve affected the human nature that they would now transmit in a fallen state. They will transmit a human nature that is deprived of original holiness and justice. They will transmit a human nature that is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil which is called “concupiscence.” (CCC 404-405)

The Immaculate Conception
The response of God to all this is the promise of a Savior. God will send his Son to be born of a Woman who will be established in perpetual enmity with the devil. As Adam is the source of sin, Christ is the source of grace. The bad news of original sin will be reversed by the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men, that all need salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Christ. (CCC 389) Mary, who is destined to be the Mother of the Redeemer, became the first to be redeemed. By God’s decisive act, Mary did not inherit a human nature that is deprived of original holiness and grace. Instead, she is “full of Grace” because from the very beginning of her human existence, she was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Lord was truly with her. In Mary, we find that paradise lost became paradise regained. God, who is wonderful in creating man, was even more wonderful in restoring him to grace. This wondrous act of God is concretely seen in Mary. In Mary, we behold the glory of the new creation in Christ which far surpassed the beauty of original holiness and justice. All beautiful in the grace of God, Mary rightfully appropriates for herself the song of the prophet Isaiah: “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bride adorned with her jewels.” (Is 61:10) Mary shows us the beauty of creation redeemed and human nature fully divinized by God in glory. Hers is the glory that we aspire for. Thus we turn away from the wickedness of sin and struggle against our concupiscence. Purified by the grace we receive from the sacraments, we hope that one day we shall also regain the paradise we lost. To Mary, we cry for help: “Bend from your throne at the voice of our crying. Look to this earth where your footsteps have trod. Stretch out your arms to us living and dying, Mary Immaculate, Mother of God.”  

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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