A priest went to visit a violent criminal who was condemned to death…
… hoping to prepare his soul to die well.
But the man wouldn’t even talk to him.
The priest pleaded and begged him to get reconciled with God…
… but the man’s heart was highly closed!
Finally, as a last resort, the priest entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary and then said to the criminal, “Before I leave, will you grant me one little favor?”
The man, with an intention to get rid of the bothersome priest, said he would.
“Let us then,” the priest responded, “Say one Hail Mary.”
So, together they began to pray that simple prayer…
… “Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with You…”
But they hadn’t even got through the first sentence when the criminal turned pale…
… and his voice started to shake.
The priest to continued the Hail Mary…
… and as he finished tears started to flow from the man’s face, and he fell on his knees at the priest’s feet.
As soon as the prayer was done, the man asked to make confession.
He then confessed his sins with a great sense of repentance!
The words, “Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you…”
… had ignited the spark of repentance in him!
Yes, that’s the power of the intercession of Mother Mary!
>> She is the refuge of sinners
Her life of Faithfulness to God’s Grace, is an inspiration to all of us…
… to live an Immaculate and Holy Life!
Today, we celebrate the Solemn Feast of the beginning of the faithful life of the Most Beautiful and Loved Creation of God: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother.
Sin is part of every human life.
St Paul testifies to this fact when he says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23)
By themselves, human beings are incapable of freeing themselves from sin.
… Everyone needs a Saviour
… Everyone needs a Redeemer
But God, in His infinite wisdom had thought of the most excellent way of redeeming humanity.
>> Salvation was to be accomplished not through any magical power
>> Salvation was to be brought about not through some superhuman force
Rather, the salvation of humanity was to be won by a Human Himself – the most perfect Human.
>> This perfect Human deserved and required the most sinless of all wombs for being born
>> This perfect Human demanded and necessitated the most immaculate of all lives to be nurtured
Thus, God in His perfect wisdom, applied the Grace of Redemption and Salvation to the One He had chosen – Mary of Nazareth.
>> Mary is the first recipient of the Redemption of Christ!
>> Mary is the first fruit of the Salvation, won by Christ!
This is the story of the Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary.
The Holy Scripture testifies to this Immaculate nature of our Blessed Mother through the words of Angel Gabriel to Her, “Hail, FULL of Grace!” (Lk 1:28)
Thus, the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother points to Her sinlessness, Her being full of Grace, Her perfection in holiness and Her absolute adherence to the Will of God.
… wait a moment!
>> Are not all these things pointing to Mary simply being somebody “too-special” and almost like she being “supernatural”?
>> Are not all these things telling us that Mary was simply just “not like us” and we can never ever achieve or even aspire to be what She was?
Well… Undoubtedly, Mary lived a life that was “too-special” and a life that was “supernatural” in holiness.
But we need to bring to our mind a very vital aspect…
Though the birth of being sinless, was a gift granted to Her…
… the fact of remaining sinless all through Her life, was Her choice!
Though the birth of being full of grace, was a gift bestowed on Her…
… the fact of remaining always in the Grace of God, was Her choice!
Though the birth of being perfect in holiness, was a gift endowed on Her…
… the fact of remaining holy, was Her choice!
Like any other human person, She too…
… went through the crises of life
… faced humiliation and rejection in life
… had to face the rock of uncertainty and doubts of life
But, it was Her radical choice for God and Her absolute preference to the Will of God, that made Her to remain Immaculate all through Her Life.
“Yes, Lord… Thy Will be done” (Lk 1:38) was a chorus that She sang in all the moments of life!
Today, on this Feast day, this our Blessed Mother invites and exhorts us, also…
… to make a choice for God, always, and lead a sinless life
… to always opt for God alone, at all times, and being immaculate in life
… to unswervingly be faithful to God’s Will, and thus seek to be perfect in life
The challenge is great… the efforts required are radical.
>> But we are not left alone in this “pursuit of holiness” (1 Cor 9:24)
Our Blessed Mamma – the Beautiful Lady in blue and white – grace in holiness and immaculate in love – holds our hands and tells us:
“My Little Child, I am with you!
I love you, and together, we shall walk in this exciting path of Holiness…
… towards My Son and Your Brother…
… towards Our Saviour Jesus!”
Yes, may we give heed to the loving call of our Blessed Mother
>> And be fervent and zealous to lead a holier life, pleasing to God…
… as we pray, “Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with You…!”
Happy Feast of our Immaculate Mamma!
God Bless! Live Jesus!