Is it not a thing of shame that those who read and believe the Bible as God's word (Christians) are divided over the person of Mary and her role in the mystery of salvation and redemption, meanwhile in Islam she holds singularly an exalted position? If it does not worry you, it worries me. It is so shameful to hear some Christians refer to the Mother of God (Jesus) as "mere vessel" meanwhile they cannot take even the slightest insults from anyone against their own mothers. One big problem Christians like these have is that they never take time to "read and study" the texts of Scripture in order to understand Mary's role and what the Church teaches about her. They fail to realise that every Marian teaching is more of Jesus than Mary herself and are all rooted in the Bible. They fail to realise that Mary's Immaculate conception is more about Jesus: if Mary was not preserved from sin (both original and actual sins) Jesus would not have been born sinless. If this is too deep to understand read slowly...
Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.'She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour.

1. Child of God, the foundation of understanding Mary's Immaculate Conception is clearly seen from the angelic salutation: 'Rejoice so highly favoured when read and interpreted from the original Greek texts in which it was written translates 'highly favoured' (Kecharitomene-Κεχαριτωμένη) to be a perfect passive participle of the verb (charitou-χαριτοω) which means 'to fill or endow with grace' has a continuative, permanent and durative value, and shows that Mary was endowed with grace in the past and with continuing and permanent effects as at the angels salutation and in the future. No wonder when she was disturbed by such grandiose salutation, the angel clarified with the words 'do not be afraid, you have won God's favour' as if to say 'no Mary, I am not flattering you, what I say to you is what you are, for that is How God (who sent me) sees and addresses you, and asked me to address you by those very words.
Mary in Islamic Calligraphy translates as 'Maryam daughter of Imran'. Source: 
2. This is exactly what fascinates Muslims about Mary for she is the only woman named in the Quran. And the Quran describes her as doubly favoured for she was chosen twice by the Lord when it says: O mary! Verily Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds (Quran 3:42). The Quran mentions Mary 70 times and dedicates a full chapter to her titled 'Mary' (Maryam). Is this not a cause for shame to you who call yourself Christian but know nothing about the mother of your God?
3. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception teaches that through the merits of her future role as Mother of God, Mary was conceived (born by her parents) without original sin- a sin inherited not committed- that wound in human nature that makes us tend not to follow what it knows to be right. And she lived all her life on earth sinless because that wound of original sin is not in her. It was this grace from God that enabled Mary to give a true and considered “Yes” to the request, conveyed by the Angel Gabriel, that she should consent to be the mother of the incarnate God. This 'Yes' of Mary undid the 'No' of Eve the first woman to God, and thus Mary's impeccable holiness is a sign of the enmity between the serpent and the woman, and preparation for the enmity between her Offspring (Jesus) and the offspring of the serpent (sin) proclaimed in Genesis 3:15 when God says: 'I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring' for it is the only holiness that puts us in enmity with the evil one, sin makes us his friends. This teaching was almost universally believed over the centuries but was only formally defined as a doctrine of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

TASK: What have you learnt? Mary's immaculate conception reminds us of what God wants us to be as St. Paul says in Eph. 1:4 that God chose us in Christ 'before the world was made, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence...' This is the original plan of God for your life, such that even when sin interrupted this plan, he redeemed us through Christ in baptism. Do you still keep your baptismal vows? Pray Psalm 51 now asking the Lord to cleanse you from every sin. If you have mortal sins, go confess them sacramentally.

©Fr. SimOne Madu, OSJ

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