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Immaculate Conception: 'Given for Our Sake'

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On Feb. 11, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, who announced to St. Bernadette Soubirous, "I am the Immaculate Conception." The following is adapted from the homily delivered by Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC, on Dec. 8, 2016, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

One of the most beautiful phrases in the Book of Genesis talks about Adam and Eve conversing with God in the cool of the evening, talking to Him just as simply and openly as a young child might speak to its mother. And yet, they were tempted for something more.

God gave Adam and Eve only one commandment: Not to eat the fruit of the tree in the center of the Garden. And yet with just that one simple rule, and with the freedom to go anywhere they wanted to go, why was it they couldn't help but reach out to it and taste its goodness? Its goodness, however, was the undoing of humanity.

But God would not leave us in that state. No, God would give us another means by which we could come back to Him. And the channel of that means was a true Son of Adam, born of the most perfect daughter of Adam and Eve.

Now it might seem odd to refer to Mary as the perfect daughter of Adam and Eve since they themselves were less than perfect. But Mary is truly the perfect daughter because, unlike Adam and Eve, she chose to do God's will perfectly. Knowing full well the graces that would be achieved by her Son, God gave her an outpouring of prevenient grace, recognizing the merit that Jesus would win by His life, Death, and Resurrection so that she, in fact, could be truly full of grace (see Lk 1:28).

You and I are called to be sons and daughters of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. You and I are called to say from the depths of our hearts, "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to Your word."

Mary's Immaculate Conception was a unique grace given to her and to no one else, but it was a grace that was given to her for our sake. Sometimes we forget that the Immaculate Conception, although it is completely about the Virgin Mary, is meant to be a sign to you and I of who you and I are called to be.

We are called to be beloved disciples; we are called to take Mary into our very hearts and ask her to be our mother just like the Beloved Disciple. And like the Beloved Disciple, we're called to listen to her and to seek her motherly advice.

She stands beside us with her arm wrapped around our shoulders, with her mantle protecting us from the evil one, whispering into our ears what she said at the Wedding Feast of Cana: "Do whatever He tells you to do."

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