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The Immaculate Conception

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Canonry of St. Leopold - published on 12/06/14

Protected from sin but not forced to be sinless, Mary saved us all when she said "no" to sin and "yes" to God's plan.

Adam and Eve ruined everything! What a mess they made of the whole thing—not just the embarrassment of their being caught naked (or better yet, their having made being naked a bad thing!) and getting thrown out of the Garden, but the whole Curse they called down upon themselves and all of us, their children and children’s children: suffering, sweaty labor, and every other evil you can or cannot think up, oh, and death, too. Great job, Mom and Dad! Thanks a lot.

It’s no good blaming God for this—He was the one trying to protect them, but they didn’t listen, and we paid the price. (How often do others pay a price when I don’t listen?) God did not curse them; they cursed themselves. He’s not the bad guy in this story.

It’s no good blaming the Devil, although, of course, he is wicked. But he didn’t force our first parents to sin. And they had, in God’s promise, all they needed to stay out of trouble. Blaming the devil might make us feel good, but—as with everything to do with the devil except ignoring him – it winds up being a mistake, if not also a sin.

And it’s not much good blaming Adam and Eve, although they are truly guilty, both of them, although in different ways: Eve for being foolishly proud and even talking to the Devil, thinking she’s going to be able to come out on top in this encounter, and also for not having remembered what God really had told her, and Adam – whose sin is the first and greatest – not only for letting himself be led astray by Eve’s mistake but more significantly for having been a coward and not having been there to protect her (and the Garden, which was his priestly and kingly duty) and fight off the Devil, who was no little garden snake, but a great monster.

It’s not much use blaming them, since – let’s be honest – we would have done the same! Perhaps the details of the story would have differed a bit, but, in the end, we would have messed everything up too. I’m sure I would have. (And even the pride in saying that ensures its veracity!) And to those who would like to think that they wouldn’t have messed up, might I snarkily suggest that the very pride which would allow them to think that they would not have fallen in the Fall is the proof that they would have?

But I have an even better reason to be certain – a real proof, that you and I would have botched everything if we had been our first parents. And that is this: You and I are were not chosen to be the Mother of God; you and I are not the Immaculate Conception.

But let’s go back to the Garden for a moment. After the Fall, the shattering of God’s grand plan for us and for the whole of creation, even in that very moment that He is explaining the deep pit into which Adam and Eve have hurled themselves and us, He is working out a plan to lift us out of that same pit. A daring plan. A plan whose subtlety and boldness surpass human imagination.

He could simply have snapped His divine finger, so to speak, and wiped out our mistake, our transgression, and made it all new again. But there are at least two problems with that solution. The first is that there would be nothing to keep us from doing it again! And again, and again. That might try even divine patience, and it would not really be much fun for us either. The second, and more telling reason why God did not just simply blink it all away, is that it would be a monumental act of disrespect towards us! Since He had given us a tremendous if terrible gift in creating us to be free – thereby making us in His image – no matter how poorly we used that freedom, He would never undo it. So to respect us, He had to respect the consequences of our actions.

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