Love overflows when we hear the word ‘Mother’. Even the word Father becomes small compared to this word. Why is it so? We see the signature of God in mothers.
Mother Mary is the mother of the universe. From the manger to the Calvary and even after that Mother Mary continues to fill the universe with love. She promises to be with us always. When I was in the seminary, my mother used to comfort me saying, “Dear son do not worry, I am praying for you always.” Those words brought immense comfort to me. It is this same promise that Jesus also gives us. Even when the disciples deserted and ran away at the time of crucifixion, Mother stood by him controlling her deep grief. I am sure she suffered the same way Christ did when he was nailed to the cross. She united the disciples who had dispersed waiting for his resurrection. In the end she stood by the disciples who went on to preach the gospel to the ends of the world after being anointed by the Holy Spirit. Where else can we get the assurance but through this mother who continues to appear around the world.
The word mother equals to love and the Holy Church commemorates the mother through feasts like, Assumption, birth of Mary annunciation etc. One of the feasts celebrated even from the olden days is the feast of Immaculate Conception. In some Monasteries in Palestine we see the depiction of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. We see the reference of this in the preaching of St Andrew of Crete in 740 AD and in the preaching of Bishop John. The feast was first solemnized as a Holy Day of Obligation on 6 December 1708 under the Papal Bull Commissi Nobis Divinitus by Pope Clement XI. He further said all those who took part in the celebration would get plenary indulgence. Blessed Pope Pius IX on the 8th of December 1854 declared the Immaculate Conception as a Dogma of the universal church. Thus this feast became popular all over the world. The faithful across all the churches in the world celebrate this feast on December 8th. As we meditate on the Immaculate Conception let us ensure that it does not become a celebration of ritual. Though we were born with original sin, through baptism we have been absolved from the original sin and have become holy like Mother Mary. However through the actions of our lives we move away from holiness we received at baptism. Lord Jesus desires us to regain this holiness through the sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. Mother Mary was born without the original sin and led a life devoid of actual sins. As we celebrate the feast of Immaculate Conception let us also follow emulate the life of Mary and lead a life without sin.
This feast has so much to convey to us. Let us not be like the people who commit any number of sins and live as if they have not done anything or like the people who for their own selfish needs do not hesitate to commit any crime. Let us courageously disown everything that leads as away from Christ. I extend the greetings of the feast to you all.
Fr Antony Parakkadavil