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Sunday:       The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Date:         December 8, 2016.
Year:         A
The readings: [Gen. 3:9-15, 20; Ephes. 1:3-6, 11-12; Lk. 1:26-38]
The message:  Preserved free from all stain of origin sin.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry
Total words:  1438

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** The readings follow the sermon.

Good morning my brothers and sisters in Christ. Welcome to today's celebration of the Holy Mass on the special Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Today's Feast commemorates one of the Marian dogmas that has been proclaimed by the Holy Catholic Church. Its origin can be traced to the 4 th century. In those early days of the Church, theologians believed and taught that the Blessed Virgin Mary had been kept free of all traces of sin by the grace of God because she was to become the Mother of the Lord Jesus. This belief coexisted with the perpetual virginity of Mary, her sinlessness, and her Divine motherhood. Church history makes known to us that as early as the seventh century, there was a liturgical observance that proclaimed the Blessed Virgin Mary to be free from sin.

Centuries later, after consulting with all the Bishops of the world, Pope Pius IX pronounced and defined on December 8, 1854, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Ineffabilis Deus. This dogma proclaims that the Blessed Virgin Mary, "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

In simple terms, this dogma proclaims that:

1) The entire being of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her physical and spiritual natures, were created by God Himself at her conception; and,

2) She who was to become the tabernacle of the incarnation, was never subject to original sin, but was completely preserved from all the effects of the Adamic sin.

In other words, the whole being of the Blessed Virgin Mary was created by God immaculate in nature. Mary was the only new and second Eve who was created in an immaculate state which was equal to the state of holiness that the first Eve enjoyed prior to her having disobeyed the Lord God in the Garden of Eden.

Researching Marian beliefs during the first thousand years, it is learned through Church documents that in the 8 th century, St. Germanus wrote a sermon on Our Lady's Falling-Asleep. In his spiritual writings, he perceived that in the Blessed Virgin Mary, there already appeared a threefold incorruption which we shall one day all receive, of body, soul and spirit. In other words, by the grace of God, St. Germanus perceived that the whole being of the Blessed Virgin Mary, soul, spirit and body, had been preserved from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her creation.

In Genesis 2:21-3, we learn that God created the first woman who was called Eve. As a result of the woman allowing herself to be tricked by the serpent [Gen. 3:13] and Adam also eating the fruit of the forbidden tree that Eve had given him, [Gen. 3:11-2] both lost the glory and beatific vision that they enjoyed in the Garden of Eden. This blessing that they enjoyed was a conditional gift from God.

The conditional gift of God is similar to someone indefinitely granting you and your children and their children the trust of a paradise island as long as not one of you pollute it. If you pollute the island, you will be immediately expelled from it. As such, none of your descendants will be able to enjoy the island because you will have lost your right to it.

In the case of Adam and Eve, they were created immaculate in their physical and spiritual natures for the Divine purpose of becoming the holy parents of holy children who would eternally enjoy the beatific vision of God.

When tempted by Satan, the angelic being who had rebelled against God, our first parents, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the forbidden tree. Through their disobedience, sin entered into the world. Consequently, sin was transmitted to the entire human race, depriving all of Adam and Eve's descendants of the original state of holiness and justice that they enjoyed. [C.C.C. 404]

Following the disobedience of our first parents in the Garden of Eden, God said, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel." [Gen. 3:15] The seed of the woman who will crush the head of the serpent is Christ, the woman at enmity with the serpent being the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As soon as the former Kingdom of God had become corrupted by Satan, the spiritual and physical natures of God's children became subject to physical and spiritual death as defined by the Council of Trent. (C.C.C. 403) Therefore, God instituted a redemptive plan to reinstate His eternal Kingdom. Through the new Adam, Christ, and the new Eve, the Blessed Virgin Mary, God planned to reclaim His Kingdom and save His people from death.

In today's Second Reading, we praise God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us through Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Through our living faith in Christ and the Church Sacraments, we now qualify to receive the blessed hope of enjoying our rightful inheritance that was taken from us. Through our living faith in Jesus Christ and the Sacrament of Baptism, we now have the opportunity to once more become holy and blameless children before God in perfect love. We now qualify to be raised to the blameless and immaculate state of grace that the Blessed Virgin Mary enjoyed throughout her life and continues to enjoy to this date.

By the grace of God, we have received a new heart, a new spirit and the indwelling Holy Spirit to raise us to the level of holiness that the Blessed Virgin Mary enjoyed during her earthly life. Through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, having been born again of water and Spirit, we have been adopted into the Body of Christ in the living hope of receiving our salvation. Through our living faith, including the reception of the Sacrament of Confession, we receive the righteousness of our souls.

Through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we abide in Jesus and Jesus in us, this leading towards our salvation. [Jn. 6:56] Then, when the dead will be raised at the last trumpet, at the twinkle of an eye, we will all be changed, our perishable bodies putting on imperishability. [1 Cor. 15:52-3]

At that time, for those who have been saved through Jesus Christ, it will be said that they are immaculate in soul, spirit and body. In the fullness of their immaculate state, they will glorify God forever and ever.

God called us to become His adopted children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

During today's Gospel Reading, we heard the words of the angel Gabriel, "Greetings, favoured one!" [Lk. 1:28] The actual words from the translated Latin Vulgate Bible are, "Hail, full of grace!" From these words, the angel Gabriel was expressing that the Blessed Virgin Mary enjoyed a unique state of grace that far surpassed the creation of all men and the angels. Her soul, spirit and body were immaculate because of her immaculate conception.

Not only was the Blessed Virgin Mary immaculate in her conception, but she remained faithful and immaculate to God to the end of her earthly life.

Through the Immaculate Conception of Mary who fully cooperated with the Divine Plan of God, we are led to Jesus. The glorious Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a reminder that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the new Eve, our spiritual Mother, she who has become co-redeemer with Christ in our salvation by allowing her womb to become the humble instrument and Sacred Temple of the Living God.

As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us be thankful to the Immaculate Conception for answering her special calling that was instrumental to our salvation. Let us praise her for having remained immaculate to the end. Let us look up to her, a precious gem of the Holy Catholic Church, as a perfect model of virtues. Let us always remember that, by the grace of God, when we will be glorified to the fullness of our beings, we also will become immaculate in nature.

(Ref: Apostolic Constitution of Pius IX, "Defining the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception", Ineffabilis Deus by Most Rev. John R. Sheets, S.J.; Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 491-2; "Christ's Mother & Our" by Fr. Oscar Lukefahr, C.M.; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Immaculate Conception", article # 07674D at "http://www.knight.org/advent/"; "A Catholic Dictionary of Theology," by Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd (1961), Volume 1, page 175)

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

* * * * * * * * * *

First Reading...

"When Adam eaten from the tree, the Lord God called to him, and said, 'Where are you?' The man said, 'I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.'

God said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?' The man said, 'The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.' Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this that you have done?' The woman said, 'The serpent tricked me, and I ate.'

The Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.'

The man named his wife 'Eve,' because she was the mother of all the living." [Gen. 3:9-15, 20]

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Second Reading...

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

He destined us for adoption to sonship as his own through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory." [Eph. 1:3-6, 11-2]

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Gospel Reading...

"The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The Virgin's name was Mary.

And he came to her and said, 'Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.'

But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be end.'

Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I am a virgin?'

The angel said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.'

Then Mary said, 'Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.' Then the angel departed from her." [Lk. 1:26-38]

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