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CALLED TO BE HOLY AND WITHOUT STAIN BEFORE GOD
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Thursday, the Immaculate Conception, December 08, 2011
Gen. 3:9-15, 20, Ps. 97, Eph. 1:3-6, 11-12, Luke 1:26-38


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him" (Eph. 1:3-4).


Today we are celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that is, that she was conceived without Original Sin and so was pure, holy, and without stain before God through her whole life, making her a fitting dwelling place and mother of the Son of God. Mary was free from Original Sin by a special favor of God through the redeeming death of Jesus Christ on the cross, which she received ahead of time. In this she is a model for all of us who were redeemed by Christ, for we too are called in Christ to be "holy and blameless before him" (Eph. 1:4). This comes to us through his death and resurrection, by our faith in him. "And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him" (Col. 1:21-22).


This is our vocation, and Mary is like a mirror to show us what we are called to be-"holy and blameless and irreproachable before him" (Col. 1:22). This depends on the power of God who justified us through the death of Jesus Christ when we were sinners. This now requires our cooperation to grow in holiness and be blameless before God at the coming of Jesus Christ with all his saints (1 Thess. 3:13). We are the Church, and Christ "gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27). This is what we are called to be.


Now in Advent we are in the desert with John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord, making straight his path. We are hoping for his coming in grace at Christmas, and we want to be blameless in his sight when at last he comes in glory, and all flesh sees it together (Isa. 40:5). We live in this splendor now, because the Virgin Mary gave birth to our Savior in Bethlehem. Christ brought into the world the kingdom of God, a kingdom of heavenly peace for all who believe in him; for God, in assuming our flesh, sanctified, illuminated, transformed, and divinized it for those who believe in him. In this way we "become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4). Through our faith in Christ we are divinized by his birth; and in Holy Communion we eat his body, containing his divinity, which illuminates and transforms us. His death on the cross paid for our sins and for Original Sin in us, suffering their punishment for us, and so he makes us holy and without spot before God. We are to grow in this holiness until the glorious coming of Christ and so be blameless in his sight when he comes.

 

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