Paradise regained – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary- Gn 3:9-15, 20
So it’s back to the beginning if we want to understand this feast and that’s exactly where the Church’s liturgy takes us; to the book of Genesis. The narrative we are told is a familiar one. It is a narrative of disobedience and disbelief in God. Adam and Eve brought into the world original sin by their disobedience and disbelief in their creator. As a consequence of this original sin all humans are born in sin; save one, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Often times, we are made to think that the sin of our first parents was merely one of disobedience. In reality it was that and more for in one swift move the devil in three statements, planted doubts and fear and corrupted faith in God. To undo this we needed a Saviour.
Let’s look at the narratives of lies and doubt sowed by the devil. The devil told Eve she would not die, which she would not, had she not sinned; sin brought death. He then told her that her eyes would be opened and she would be “like” God when in reality she “was” made in God’s image and likeness. Finally she was convinced by the devil that when she ate of the fruit she would know good and evil when in reality she was already introduced to God who is good and did not need an introduction to the devil who is evil.
When Adam and Eve sinned, God confronted them as He does with our sin. Like Adam, we too feel a sense of shame and nakedness and try to run away from God. The reality is that we can run away from God but can never hide for God found Adam and He will finds us.
It is then that the excuse for our sin begins. We begin to pass on the buck rather than take responsibility. Adam blamed Eve if not blatantly blamed God himself for he says to God, “ the woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit for the tree and I ate,” Adam was ready to blame anyone except himself. Eve in turn blamed the serpent not taking responsibility for her actions.
The viciousness of original sin was now injected into humanity and paradise was lost. Original sin now became a sad reality for the human race and that has come to characterize our human condition. Because of original sin we find ourselves constantly inclined to sin. To save humanity God had to send His only Son, Jesus our Saviour, with a clear mandate to save us from our sin so that paradise may one day be gained for us again.
To bring about this plan to fruition, God in his mercy sent His Son born of a Virgin. Jesus, who receives His human flesh from His mother, receives this flesh from a person who, by a singular ‘gift’ from God, comes into this world without original sin. This ‘gift’ was not ‘given’ by the angel to Mary at the annunciation but ‘announced’ by the angel as a declaration that Mary was always, from the moment of HER CONCEPTION, “full of grace.” She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence and it is this that we celebrate today.
The disobedience of Adam and Eve is now overturned by the obedience of Jesus and Mary who were obedient to the will of God. As St. Irenaeus says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” She is the New Eve.
Fr Warner D’souza