Many people confuse the Virginal Conception of Christ and the Immaculate Conception but “they are two very different things”, Archbishop Jason Gordon said as he presided at Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain on Thursday, December 8.
He explained the Virginal Conception was about the birth of Jesus by the action of the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, while the Immaculate Conception is a Feast about Mary.
Archbishop Gordon commented that the day’s gospel, Luke 1:26–38, the Annunciation talked about Mary and gave “a very unique view into who our God is. By looking through Mary, we see God in a particular way, and we understand the providence of God for us His people, in a very particular way.”
The December 8, 1854, dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaimed Mary, the mother of Jesus, preserved free from the effects of original sin from the moment of her conception.
Archbishop Gordon said the Church has meditated upon this and opened a way to understand something “of the God in whom we trust”.
To understand the dogma, one must go back to the beginning to Adam and Eve who were created without sin but chose sin. Archbishop Gordon said he has meditated on what the world would be like if they had remained obedient to God.
“If the harmony that God created us with, that harmony existed still today, and if we were all living in that state of harmony, wouldn’t that be Heaven? That’s the image of Heaven, the garden of Eden.”
Archbishop Gordon referred to the Second Reading, St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 1:3–6, 11–12 stating God’s “original plan” was for people to be blameless and holy.
God destined people from the beginning to be the people who put hope in Christ. In this reading he said St Paul saw grace as an unwarranted gift which people did not merit. Mary on the other hand is graced by God.
“Grace has been complete, and that grace continues into the future. That’s how we start meditating upon the Immaculate Conception. This is before the Holy Spirit has overshadowed Mary which is the next thing that will happen.”
Mary is the new Eve, and Jesus is the new Adam without original sin. Archbishop Gordon said through Baptism, grace has come from God, but it does not remove the penalty of original sin or its effects.
“You and I know the effect of original sin, every day and ever moment in our life. Pushing us to foolishness, dotishness and more stupidity every moment of every day. What tradition would call…that deeper inner rebellion against God: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life and that which is part of us was not part of Mary,” he said.
As Eve brought enmity and a fractured humanity, Mary’s ‘yes’ opened the way for grace to come into the world. “The name of that grace is Jesus Christ”, the Archbishop said. He added that through Mary’s ‘yes’ Catholics belong to a “spiritual lineage” and hope is in Christ.
Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Santiago De Wit Guzmán concelebrated the Mass, along with Vicar General/Cathedral Administrator Fr Martin Sirju and other clergy. Deacon Lennox Toussaint proclaimed the gospel.
Following the Mass, there was a procession of altar servers and clergy to the grotto in the Cathedral where the prayer of dedication to the Immaculate Conception was recited.