It’s a shame that people misunderstand the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Let’s be clear: the Immaculate Conception is the Catholic belief that the Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin in the womb of her mother, Saint Ann. The Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with the conception of the Child Jesus or the visit of an angel.
Now that we’ve got that straight, what does this have to do with us? God never intended for humanity to tum against Him in disobedience. He created Adam and Eve in the hope that they would be the recipients of all His love and the wonders of His creation. God’s plan was to shower His blessings on these new creatures of His. What messed all this up? Adam and Eve (and hence all humanity) made a conscious decision to disobey God and do exactly what they wanted to do without His help. Human beings have this inclination to think we know best or to rationalize our misdeeds (or simply deny that they are misdeeds.)
In spite of the disappointment the human race turned out to be, God continued to believe in these human creations of His. In His plan, He desired to send a Savior – someone who could save us from the tragedy of sin. No human being could accomplish this. Only the coming of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity as man could bring salvation. Once God becomes human, then the human race can be made holy again.
But God also chose to use humanity to begin the process. God chose a young woman from Nazareth. He chose her before she was born. He gave her all the graces she would need – He allowed her to experience beforehand the consequences of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. God preserved the Virgin Mary from original sin so that when she was asked “Will you participate in obedience to God’s plan or disobey like Adam and Eve?” she would have all the supernatural help she needed to say “yes”. The Blessed Virgin could very easily have refused. She could have chosen not to exercise this gift of sinlessness. She could have simply lived the holiest of lives quietly for her own personal sanctification. She could have said, “I’d rather not get involved, but thank you for asking.”
God wanted all of us to be conceived and born without this terrible original sin – that tendency to sin. We got in the way of God’s plan of our own free will. Now we rely on the waters of baptism to restore us from what we inherit from Adam. But the Immaculate Conception remains tremendously important for every believer. Our Lady shows us what kind of life is possible when we rely on God’s grace and choose, like her, to cooperate with it. Through Baptism we have been given all the opportunities that were given to the Virgin Mary. This Advent Season is the perfect opportunity to rediscover God’s plan for our lives and to show our gratitude by living every Advent moment to the fullest.