Verse 2: The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came
“For know a blessed mother thou shalt be, all generations laud and honor thee;
Thy son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!
Basque Carol, 19th century
Today, December 8, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception for our Catholic brothers and sisters. If you’re anywhere near downtown Minneapolis today, you’re likely to hear lots and lots of bells, as the Basilica of St. Mary lauds this day
A little known fact among Protestants (and even Catholics): the IC is not about Jesus’ conception. It’s about Mary’s. Mary is understood, in this rather recently dogmatized understanding of the church, to be born without sin, so that she in turn may give birth to Christ without sin.
My Protestant brain short-circuits at this point. If God could produce the miracle of the virgin birth (which is not what this day is about, and a subject for another post), surely God could have seen to eliminating Mary’s sinful genes in the process too. But all this dogma came before DNA, so that’s not really the point.
What is the point?
“Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee!” What an astonishing thing, that God entered into our humanity, crammed heaven into an embryo, was completely undeterred by the mess generations of human beings have made of our imago dei, and came this close – with us in our very nature.
God seems to have been able to work with Mary, and how exactly that worked isn't the good news. Mary said, “let it be,” and generations after her have looked to her example to imagine that Christ might enter us, and through us enter the world.