The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.’” vss. 30-31Luke 1:26-33
So how was it that Mary had found favor with God? She was likely quite young, maybe even a teenager, but no one knows much about her. Our scriptures say nothing–only that she had found favor with God. Of course that hasn’t stopped the speculation. In the third century it was taught that she had been born to an elderly childless couple and had been conceived without sexual intercourse. Stories like that led to an emphasis on her lifelong purity, and it was taught that she had never sinned. Ultimately in 1854 Pope Pius IX issued a papal bull making her Immaculate Conception an infallible dogma–not only had she never committed personal sins, she was also born without original sin. It was taught and believed that in order for her to be the mother of Jesus, her record had to be impeccable. Obviously this teaching did a lot to elevate the status of Mary in the Church, and the December 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception has become a major holy day for Roman Catholics. Millions flock to her shrines all over the world–but others wonder. For them it isn’t important how pure Mary was–what impresses them is her obedience. We know God loves sinners, and if Jesus had a mother who was a sinner, well, what’s the big deal?
Thought for the Day: What are the qualities of a pure person?