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Catholic Diocese of Umuahia


By Fr. Francis Onwunali
Mon, 09 Dec 2019

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a Church dogma defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854: "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin" (Ineffabilis Deus, 1854; Denz , 2803). 
We celebrate that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother, Anne, without original sin, hence "FULL OF GRACE". God allowed Mary to receive the grace of redemption which her Son would bring through His death and resurrection. She was gifted with this redemption before it took place in time. "Redemption anticipated and prevented original sin in her" (John Paul II). Mary is not only Christ's disciple, who with the help of grace has overcome the chains of sin, but she is "the noble resting place of the Holy Trinity" (Thomas Aquinas, Exposito Salutationis Angelicae, 1). 
The theme of the readings of today is responding to grace. We are presented with two women, Eve and Mary, their actions, and the repercussions of their actions. Both women are key to the message of salvation, but from different perspectives. 
In the first reading, we hear the story of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3: 9-15, 20). In the gospel, we hear of the Woman who is gifted with the fullness of Grace, Mary. However, unlike our first parents who chose not to respond to this grace, Mary responded with her fiat "let it be". Freely she accepted and responded to grace, God's life within her (Lk 1: 26-38). 
Dear friends, Grace means gift/favour. It is a gift from God. Grace is not a reward of obedience, rather obedience is the response to grace in our life. Mary, mother of the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, is honoured today because of her response to the Grace of God. Is there anything in my life- thoughts and actions, that limit my response to the Grace of God in my life?
I pray as we journey in life today, we will be grateful to God for giving us a share in God's Divine life, the life of grace. May we respond to this grace so that we can be lifted above even the most challenging aspects of our lives. Have a Grace-full day!
God is Love!

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