Sometimes it’s hard to take in the power behind the Immaculate Conception. After all, our human hearts cannot comprehend just how expansive God’s love is. I mean seriously, I’m a flawed human being and I make my fair share of mistakes, yet his love is so huge it covers all of my sin – and the sins of the entire world. Then I look at our Blessed Mother, the Immaculate Conception, and I am reminded of the power of his love. Through her his love entered into the world in human form and by emulating the Blessed Mother we too can be God’s servant.
Mother as Comforter
God knew we would need the tender love of a mother, which I write about in my blog post Mother as Nurturer/Comforter. You see, God created Eve for Adam because there was something Adam needed – feminine love and comfort. Eve would be his perfect complement and he would be hers. Together man and woman would be the expression of God’s love in the world.
However, planet earth is subject to the influence and powers of evil. Our first parents fell prey to evil’s trap. Still a truth remained, the potential for love and comfort was already woven into the fabric of the world and this would not be undone. However, love and comfort would now be intertwined with pain and heartache.
I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you. – Genesis 3:16 (NABRE)
Husband and wife were set against each other when fear and shame entered into their hearts of our first parents. Eve (and Adam) would now suffer pain. They will witness suffering in the bodies, hearts, and minds of their children and the generations that follow them. As a mother and grandmother myself, who is also subject to the evils of this world, I understand this type of pain. Family heartache would now be woven into the tapestry of the world alongside love and comfort.
Eve’s Urge for Her Husband
After partaking of the fateful apple, Eve’s desire became orientated towards her husband and his rule over her began. Since Antiquity many have found this verse to be confounding. It has caused confusion, outright anger, frustration, and division in the hearts of many of God’s children. Yet, it is better for Eve to have her urge directed towards Adam then the serpent and the apple right? After all, Adam was created in the image of God and the serpent rejected God. However, Adam is also subject to sin – all human husbands are. Does God offer a better way?
Adam’s human weakness is revealed in today’s first reading. We see how quickly Adam turned against Eve during her moment of need, which was also his first moment of fear. Instead of protecting her, his fear left her vulnerable. What followed was their first experience of shame – something they experienced together. Throughout history, pain and heartache has often resulted from the orientation of the feminine towards the masculine – a discussion that is beyond the scope of this reflection. However, through all the pain and heartache imbedded in this new dynamic, the seeds of love continue to take root and produce good fruit.
Our Blessed Mother, the Immaculate Conception, can show us the way into love that produces good fruit. By following her example the hearts of men and women alike become filled with love. As our hearts fill with God’s love we step into a fullness that only God offers.
Mary’s Urge For Her Husband
Mary’s life began with many blessings. What we know of her childhood is taken from the Gospel of James (like many ancient works this gospel is not in the Bible). Mary was an only child born to elderly, devout Jewish parents Joachim and Anna. Her mother Anna, who only became pregnant after much prayer and supplication to God, raised Mary to be pure. To show her gratitude for this little girl, Anna dedicated Mary to the service of God in the Temple. From the beginning Mary was given every grace necessary to become the mother of Jesus.
However, Mary, like the rest of humanity, was also given free will and she used her free will to fall in love with God. It was Mary’s choice to say yes to Life when God asked her to become the mother of his son. Her yes opened up a space for our savior Jesus Christ to enter into the world and we are eternally indebted to her.
The Immaculate Conception
Now, normally a woman doesn’t say yes to bearing a man’s child until she has fallen in love with him. The moment of conception is preceded by time spent together getting to know one another. And this is what Mary’s life was all about – falling in love with and getting to know God. Mary experienced a divine courtship with God long before the angel Gabriel appeared.
Mary spent significant time with God. She communed with him and her urge for God was well-developed when Gabriel appeared – even at her tender young age. St. Augustine would later refer to Mary as the Mother and Spouse of God. (Sermon 208). Mary’s heart was fully orientated towards her divine spouse and, as a result, she enjoyed his loving rule over her. We are now the beneficiaries of this divine union. Mary has become the new Eve and we are invited to trust in the rule of her divine spouse just like she did.
Mother Mary’s Heart
Even though Adam and Eve missed the mark when they allowed the serpent in, God in his faithfulness has been with mankind the entire time. Mary’s life is evidence of this. She is an example for all humanity to follow, we (male and female alike) can trust in God like Mary did. When we do miracles will follow. God is, after all, in the miracle business; however, we must first say yes to him. Allowing our hearts to conform to his heart creates the space for miracles to happen. Like seeds planted in fertile soil, God’s seeds will burst into new life with our yes.
Pondering the great miracle that happened when little Mary said yes is mind-blowing. God’s infinite love for humanity was revealed when Jesus Christ entered the world. Beauty was set into motion with the Immaculate Conception and my human heart can’t even begin to adequately take all of this in. All I can do is give gratitude and ask Mary to guide me as a daughter of God. Hopefully a bit of rich soil can be found within me and God’s divine seeds can sprout.
God bless all of you – see you next week Friday! – Carolyn
Heart of Jesus – have mercy on us.
Father God – consume us.
Holy Spirit – enter into us.
Immaculate Conception – pray for us.