The Immaculate Conception

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. This feast does not celebrate the fact that Jesus was conceived while Mary was a virgin; it celebrates that Mary herself was protected from the effects of original sin, and so was prepared to be a spotless “arc” for God to enter. This was God’s action, the Church teaches us – there is no way that Mary’s own behaviour earned her this. It was Jesus’ salvific action, applied outside of time.

There is a lot of theology in this statement but what I find most encouraging about this feast is that there is a human being who has lived without sin, other than Jesus, of course. The encouraging part is what she still did; she definitely still suffered. She was still confused by things “Luke 1:29” and she had to think them through to understand them deeply ”Luke 2:19”. She was still annoyed by her child occasionally ”Luke 2:48”.

Too often what I am aiming for in the spiritual life is to bypass these human experiences, but that is not necessary. In fact, it runs counter to the action of the Holy Spirit who comes to dwell in and with the truly honest, the truly human!  Sometimes (often!) embracing uncertainty is the most spiritual thing I can do.

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