The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary

Come December Goans Catholics are flooded with double joy with the feast of Goycho Saib and the feast of Immaculate virgin. While the feast of Goycho Saib brings all Goans to Old Goa, the feast of Mother Mary remains dispersed in several Churches especially the Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim and the Holy Spirit Church in Margao. The feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary is both the occasion of the celebration of contagious human joy as well as explosive divine grace. The event of the feast gets the best out of us as humans. Our Goan-ness, as well as our Christian-ness, becomes visible both in the Churches as well our homes.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary intertwines the other three Marian dogmas. The dogma of divine motherhood ( theotokos), perpetual virginity, and the assumption are linked to the dogma of immaculate conception. The dogma and the feast of immaculate conception celebrate the truth of faith that states that Mary by a unique divine gift was made ready to play the role that God has given her in the salvation of humanity through our Lord Jesus Christ. God choose Virgin Mary and gave her the gift that Christians believe that they receive in baptism at the moment of her conception. Catholics think that God anticipated the merit of his son Jesus Christ and applied it to Mary at her birth so that she remains full of grace and is made worthy to become the mother of God. In the case of Mother Mary, the grace of Baptism was a retroactive grace, the grace that was given to her by God in anticipation. She received the grace merited by the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in advance at her birth.
Mother Mary, therefore, received a pure gift that sets her aside from the rest of humanity. This means she received more or surplus grace. Although grace cannot be measured by human standards, we can think that the divine action that led to the immaculate conception of Mother Mary is transgressive and excessive. We may find in this retroaction the measure of the measureless love of God made flesh in our Lord Jesus Christ. The true measure of love is to love without measure. This love that loved without measure become flesh in Jesus Christ her son.

Pure grace and pure love touch the brim of fullness, and, therefore, cannot be measured. They belong to the economy of pure gifting. The pure gift does not belong to the transactions of the market. In the market, we give to get. In the order of the market, we need a giver, a gift and a receiver. The pure gift is simply giving and is a continuous pouring of ourselves. A pure gift is a true gift. It gives without waiting for the return. The order of the market is linear. Its geometry is a line where every giving is also taking. When we give, we at least take back thanksgiving or gratitude. The order of grace does not belong to the order of the market. Its geometry is also not linear. It disrupts the linearity of our thinking. We may think that the geometry of grace is a point that explodes in all directions. It is an intensely pregnant nodal point.

The economy of grace does not require an exchange. Grace is free and gratuitous. It is not earned by us. It is a gift given in pure love. It magnifies both the giver and the receiver. Pure giving continues giving. It pours out and remains in a continuous flow. This is why in the gift of Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary, we can already trace the gift of our Lord Jesus and the gift of his merits that saved humanity. This way we can see that the gift that Mother Mary received is a grace of retroaction. This intertwining power is in pure gift and pure love. It is so because Jesus, the son of God and the son of Mother Mary himself is a pure gift and pure love. We cannot therefore set apart Mary from her son Jesus. The feast of Mother Mary gives us Jesus who offers us the retrospective grace that opens us to receive him at Christmas.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao