Mary – a sign of victory over a serpent
There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles
commenting on today’s Gospel reading:
There is a way to present the figure of Mary that discourages instead of animating. She is referred to as the absolutely exceptional woman, exempted from original sin and its tragic consequences—and that’s not because of her own merit, but for a unique divine privilege—confirmed in grace, preserved from making mistakes, blessed in all her works … We wonder what this wonderful woman has in common with us. We, the poor descendants of Adam, forced to endure, through no fault, a punishment of sin that we have not committed. We feel envy for her but hardly love. She is too far away from our condition; she is not our traveling companion in the journey of faith that, with hard work, we tread. She does not share with us doubts, uncertainties, and also moments of bewilderment before the will of God.
This image of the mother of Jesus—derived from affection rather than from the profound meditation of sacred texts—divides the brothers of faith, instead of uniting them. It is a source of friction in the ecumenical dialogue, especially with the Protestants and the Orthodox.
Today’s feast offers us an opportunity to approach the authentic figure of Mary. She clearly shines in the Gospel accounts, free from fouling of a not always healthy devotion that gave rise also to several misunderstandings.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception—defined by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854—has been formulated with a language linked to the philosophical and theological categories of time, a difficult to understand language for the twenty-first century man and woman. If the dogma wants to have something to say to us today, we must re-read it in the light of biblical revelation.
The Mary of the Gospel is very close to us: a girl born in the mountains of Lower Galilee, in love with the young Joseph with whom she designed a family according to the tradition of her people. Then she is a mother, woman of faith, who each day had to confront difficulties and temptations similar to ours. She is not an exception but a particular person in whom God has found the full availability to realize his plan of salvation.
God does not bestow his gifts to arouse in the favored one the narcissistic pleasure of feeling privileged, but to give her a mission to carry out. Mary was filled with grace because we had to become rich in grace. In her, the Lord has manifested his good will because he wanted to fill us with every blessing.
She is perfectly inserted in this design. She used all the gifts she has freely received from God so that we might attain salvation. She gladly accepted the word of the Lord and accomplished her difficult vocation. The Gospels remind us of her doubts, questions, and moving journey of faith. Like us, like her son, she has been tried, but at all times she has been able to always say, like Jesus (2 Cor 1:19), “yes” to God.
To internalize the message, we repeat:
“You were not different from us, Sister Mary. You are blessed because you believed and you remained faithful.”