Matt C. Abbott
'Our Lord...could not grow in the womb of a sinner'
By Matt C. Abbott
December 10, 2019

Below is the text of a Dec. 8, 2019 homily given by a priest who wishes to remain anonymous.


'The Immaculate Conception'

By Father X

One of the main people of the Advent season is Mary. It is especially fitting that right now, in the midst of Advent, we should celebrate Mary's feast, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. For God prepared Mary for the Savior's coming from the very moment of her conception. He made her sinless in every way: no original sin, no actual sin. Today [Dec. 8] we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of our Lady. We celebrate the wonderful miracle that God the Father granted to His uniquely prepared daughter so that she could become the mother of God the Son. We celebrate the all-knowing nature of God who planned ahead for Mary's participation in salvation history. We celebrate the Holy Spirit the Giver of Life, who prepared a holy womb for the conception of Christ's human nature by first creating Mary without the effects of original sin.

As a new Eve, Mary's conception was immaculate, untainted by original sin; because Our Lord, Who is fully divine and perfectly holy, could not grow in the womb of a sinner. We celebrate Mary's motherhood. In the Book of Genesis, we see Eve becomes the mother of all the living, but she sins and she passes this sinfulness onto all generations. In the Gospel, Mary becomes the second Eve, saying yes to the vocation of becoming the mother of the only One who could redeem us from sin. Thus, Mary truly becomes the mother of all the living.

We also celebrate the Church's official pronouncement of Mary's Immaculate Conception, which Pope Pius IX made official in 1854. Because this occurred in somewhat recent history, some people think it is an invention of the Catholic Church, but Christians have understood this dogma and taught it since the early days of the Church. Pope Pius IX merely drew special attention to it. Because the world's influences were eroding belief in this ancient dogma, he made an official proclamation in order to stop the spread of heresies.

When Pope Pius IX officially defined the Immaculate Conception as dogma for the Roman Catholic Church, he appealed primarily to the text of Genesis 3:15 where the serpent was told by God: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed." This was a prophecy that foretold of a woman who would always be at enmity with the serpent – that is, a woman who would never be under the power of sin nor in bondage to the serpent. Gabriel's salutation to Mary at the Annunciation is also Scriptural evidence for the Immaculate Conception. In the Song of Solomon the verse "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee" is also regarded as a scriptural confirmation of the doctrine.

Another Scripture verse to defend the Immaculate Conception is from the Book of Exodus: "And you shall make the ark of incorruptible (acacia) wood and you shall gild it with pure gold, you shall gild it within and without." Moses used this kind of wood because it was very durable, indestructible and incorruptible. Mary is regarded as being the New Ark of the Covenant and, therefore, it is fitting that the New Ark likewise be made incorruptible or immaculate.

The early Church fathers compared Mary to Eve. St. Justin Martyr said that Mary was a new kind of Eve in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. Tertullian said: "As Eve had believed the serpent, so Mary believed the angel. The delinquency which the one occasioned, this did the Virgin Mary set free through faith." St. Jerome coined the phrase "Death came through Eve, but life has come through Mary."

The idea that Mary could be conceived without bondage to original sin and the related idea that Mary could live her entire life free of sin is not a glorification of her. It is a glorification of God, Who filled her with grace in order to protect her in a special way and to enable her to resist temptation throughout her life. "Let it be done to me according thy word" was not a sudden or temporary leap of faith for her; it was her life-long attitude. The power that enabled her to fulfill this desire came straight from the Holy Spirit as a gift of grace.

"Hail Mary, full of grace" the angel exclaims – and that is exactly what he meant. Mary is literally full of God's grace, so full that there is no room for any sin within her. And how could it be otherwise? For God Incarnate must enter the world through a spotless vessel, born of a woman but a woman without sin. In the Magnificat, Mary's beautiful hymn of praise, she gives thanks to God for this remarkable honor. Here, Mary teaches us how to celebrate Advent. Mary is the perfect Advent figure because the mother of Jesus is history's most remarkable model of a world's waiting for its Redeemer. She reveals, more than anyone else, how we should wait for Christ, and she shows us how to wait for Him in all His comings.

First, she waits for our Lord's first coming. Like every other pious Jew, she hoped and waited for the Messiah, but she waited for the Christ as no one else ever waited; for the One she waited for was within her. Our Lord is not simply in her thoughts and hopes, in her prayers and yearnings. He is in her flesh. His flesh is her flesh. Mary also shows us how to wait for Christ's second coming for she was the first of His disciples, the very model of discipleship. She was not one of the Apostles, but she lived discipleship to the fullest. Christ told us clearly what it means to be a disciple: "Whoever does the will of God is My brother, sister, and mother...the ones who listen to the word of God and act on it."

And this is Mary; she who hears God's word and does it. We see this throughout the Gospel of St. Luke. What does Mary do after the Annunciation? She visits her cousin Elizabeth. Mary's first act as Jesus' mother is to carry Him, not for herself, but for someone in need. Mary, the perfect disciple, follows Christ. She is blessed, not only because she bore God, but also because she is the prime example of those who listen to the word of God and keep it. She follows Our Lord all the way to the Cross. She remains faithful even after her Son's death, listening to the Lord, praying with the Apostles, and waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The season of Advent is not just waiting for Christ, but recognizing His coming and doing something about it. This kind of discipleship is not without cost. Mary was told by Simeon "a sword shall pierce your heart." And so it shall pierce the heart of every true disciple, but like Mary, we can take comfort in God's presence with us. Our Lord told us that if we love Him and keep His Word, the Father will love us and they will come and make their home with us. Let us be like Mary and say: Be it done unto me according to Your Word – and then let us do it.

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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