Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

by Fr D. Mazibuko osm

8 December 2020

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin is one of the oldest Dogmas of the Church dating back to the 2nd century, which teaches us that Mary was conceived without the stain of sin, that is, she was conceived without the mark of original sin. God bestowed on her an immaculate beginning. In the Office of Readings for this day, St Anselm eloquently observes “Blessed Lady, sky and stars, earth and rivers, day and night – everything that is subject to the power of man rejoices that through you they are in some sense restored to their lost beauty and are endowed with inexpressible new grace”. The Church Fathers speak of Mary as the new Eve since by her obedience and trust Mary began the process of undoing the harm inflicted by Eve’s disobedience and distrust. It is indeed a day of grace for all of us.

In the gospel reading for today, the angel Gabriel greets Mary with an unusual greeting “Hail full of Grace, the Lord is with you”. This greeting disturbs the Blessed Virgin. Seeing that Mary is perturbed, the angel says to her “Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favour with God”. From the moment of her initial existence, God bestowed on her the fullness of Grace. The Church will later refer to her as the Mother of Grace. I believe this title flows from today’s Feast. Yes. Mary’s conception was unique and today we celebrate her unique and Immaculate Conception. What could this Feast mean for us today? What could it mean for you and me? Are we also chosen? How can we enjoy God’s favour? I can only refer to two ways.

1. Obedience. If there is one thing that we can learn from Mary, it is her readiness to obey God. In the gospel narrative for this morning we hear her willingness to obey, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word. This is an attitude of allowing oneself to be led by God. An attitude of total submittal to God’s will. Throughout her life Mary submitted to God’s will. The Blessed Virgin remains the example par excellence among disciples who surrendered their whole lives to God’s authority and will.

2. Trust. The second is her total trust in God. Throughout her life Mary always put her trust in God even in moments of despair and utter shame. She trusted in God’s love, care, presence and plan for her. I believe this is an example for us today in our moments of desolation and utter shame. Like Mary our call is to have faith in the God of Jesus Christ

Spirituality of Obedience and Trust

3. I believe that as we celebrate this great Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin we can enjoy God’s favour by developing a spirituality of obedience and trust. A spirituality that will influence our daily choices even when it hurts, or when we have no reason to obey or trust at all. We too can draw inspiration from Mary’s way of life, we too can make obeying and trusting God our way of life. Nowadays, it is easy to rely on our intelligence and worldly methods. Mary’s example of obedience and total trust in God suggests a different route for us today. A route that could guide us to live and witness God’s favour to the world. At the Wedding Feast in Cana, Mary instructed the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” There! OBEY HIM AT ALL COSTS! I believe this is a spirituality worth discerning. We have the departing words of the angel to Mary in today’s gospel “for nothing is impossible to God”. I believe that these assuring words could give each one of us a motive to lead our daily lives in total trust and obedience to God. The challenge is on us. The ball is in our court.

4. On this day, here in our beloved Diocese, 3 gifted Diocesan priests in Frs K S. Ngwenya [Late], Fr M. Makama and Fr D. Vilakati were ordained, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin may their vocation be strengthened. Happy Anniversary dear Brothers.