Could it be - that when Mary said “I am the Immaculate Conception” she had an important message for all of us to ponder.
When we were born into this world, like all mammals, we were totally self absorbed, totally needy totally dependent on those around us to satisfy our needs. As we grew and our minds developed we became aware of others as separate from us - loving us, caring for us, maybe - but separate from us.
Gradually, we learned others had needs of their own and rights of their own.
As we grew in maturity, we learned - to a degree - and not without struggle and pain, to acknowledge and respect the needs and rights of others. This learning and the response it requires from us is the source of our own and the whole of humanities’ life-long struggle with selfishness and is at the heart of what we call virtue and sin.
Could it be that this is humankind’s evolutionary journey – a journey we are all part of from original blessedness, through sinfulness of our own choosing, to transcendence into total unity with God?
We know that everything God made is good. As human persons endowed with the gifts of memory, understanding and free will, we continue to grow in conscious awareness, discovering the gifts of reflection, discernment and the power to choose. At some stage in our early life, as we grew in maturity, we came to a moment when with full knowledge and awareness we chose to do what we knew to be wrong. We committed our personal original sin.
This moment is beautifully and symbolically described for us in the storyof Adam and Eve Genesis 2 and 3. In our doctrine it is described as ‘the fall.’ Our destiny, our deepest call, is to know, love and serve, God and all that God created. The counter call is to self love, self worship, with all its negative consequences.
I have found it a fruitful exercise to ponder on what that moment of original sin was in my life and to share with others on their similar reflections.
I believe that our life is a journey from self-absorption into altruism, - the love and respect for others and all that God has made. It is a journey out of self and into love; for most of us, it is a journey to be continued beyond death. The words of Teilhard de Chardin seem particularly relevant here:
"Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, humankind will have discovered fire."
Jesus modelled, explained and telescoped this journey for us through his life, death and resurrection. Through his sufferings and death we learn the cost of total love, total integrity. Through his resurrection and the sending forth of the Holy Spirit, he confirmed for us, life beyond death. In his prayer to the Father at his last meal with his disciples we learn of the prize at the end of the journey.
“May they all be one Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you. I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.” Jn.17:20 - 22
When Mary said ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’ she speaks in the present tense. She was conceived Immaculate and never at any moment lost that blessed state. She alone of the human race can make that claim. She never succumbed to self centred behaviour. She committed no sin, never made self centred choices. She chose God and his will in all things. Her word’s “Let it be done unto me according to your will,” gave Christ to the world and is the perfect summary of her life. It is the inspiration and aspiration for all who desire that Christ’s prayer may be fulfilled in them.
We draw wisdom and insight through reflecting on Our Lady’s role in the life of Christ revealed in the Gospels and in the interventions she has made on earth since rejoining her son in heaven. She is our hope and inspiration.
Could it be then, that like Mary, we were all conceived immaculate and our highest call, the business of our lives is to choose total love. Though time and time again we make unloving, selfish choices, time and time again we repent and return to a merciful God who knows our struggles because he became one with us, met us, in the woman at the well, the tax collector up the tree and the dying thief on the cross. He came among us and went before us to welcome us home at the last.
( Camilla Hunt)