Musings on the feast of 'The Immaculate Conception'
Could it be - that when Mary said “I am the Immaculate Conception” she was, in a certain, sense speaking for all of us – the whole of humanity?
When we were born into this world, like all mammals, we were totally self absorbed, totally needy, totally dependant 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. Not without struggle and pain, we learned - to a degree - to acknowledge and respect the needs and rights of others. This learning, and the response it requires from us, is the source of our, 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 all make from original blessedness, through sinfulness of our own making, to transcendence into total unity with God?
We know that everything God made is good. As human persons 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 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 parable of Adam and Eve Genesis 2 -3.
I have found it a fruitful exercise to ponder on what that moment 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."
Could it be that what we celebrate on this feast is, that Mary alone, of the human race, never made that unloving choice never lost that immaculate state in which she was conceived. That she alone, fully harnessed the energies of love for God and thus fulfilled her destiny to become the mother of Jesus, Son of God.
Jesus modelled, explained and telescoped this journey for us through his life, death and resurrection. Through his sufferings we learn the cost of total love, total integrity. Through his resurrection 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. 17:20 – 22
We get inspiration for this journey into unity and wholeness from the lives of martyrs, saints and mystics and from the quiet joy and deep peace of many genuinely good people who cross our paths. 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.
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. Unlike Mary, time and time again we make unloving 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 to name but a few. He came among us and went before us to welcome us home at the last.
( Camilla Hunt)