Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

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St. Joseph Church, Mishawaka

December 8, 2021

The Year of St. Joseph ends today. It began one year ago on this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It began on Dec. 8,, since that was the date 150 years ago when Blessed Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph the Patron of the universal Church. I came here this evening to celebrate this Mass at the end of the Year of St. Joseph since your parish has St. Joseph as its patron saint. We celebrate his spouse, the Immaculate Virgin Mary, whom he loved with all his heart and whom he protected, along with their Son Jesus. The Church throughout the world celebrates today Mary’s Immaculate Conception and it is a special day for us since the Immaculate Conception is the patroness of our diocese and of our country. May Mary Immaculate and her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph, intercede for all of us, all the parishioners of your parish, of our diocese, and for all the Catholic faithful of our nation.

From the very beginning of history, God, in His infinite mercy, desired to save the human race. “After the sin of Adam and Eve, God did not wish to leave humanity alone in the throes of evil” (Pope Francis). As we heard in our first reading from the book of Genesis: “the Lord God said to the serpent: … I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” God in His mercy put enmity between Satan and his offspring and the woman and her offspring. In the Hebrew original. “enmity” means complete and radical opposition. How did God put enmity, complete and radical opposition between the devil and the woman? He preserved a woman from any stain of sin. That woman was Mary. In His mercy, God did not allow her to inherit the condition of original sin. If she would have inherited this condition and participated in the disorder and corruption that the rest of us inherit from Adam and Eve, then she would have been at least partially under the sway of Satan and evil. There would not have been the complete enmity between the woman and the serpent that God in His mercy had promised.

God poured out His grace upon Mary from the first moment of her existence. This is the Immaculate Conception. That is why, at the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel addressed Mary as “full of grace.” She is the only human person ever addressed this way in the whole Bible. Mary received a special gift from God, not due to any merit on her part, but on the basis of the merits of her Son. God the Father applied the graces of His Son’s passion and death, which He foreknew, to Mary at the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb. God created her soul to be the masterpiece of His mercy in the world. He made an immaculate vessel to receive His Son into the world. The Father, rich in mercy, sent His Son to save us, to be our Redeemer. And He saved Mary, a da