The teaching that Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb, that we celebrate today with this celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary often results in two major responses or reactions: For non-Catholic Christians its seen as controversial (and often results in more confusion where some mistakenly think this makes Mary a type of goddess or a fourth member of the trinity… which goes down even more crazy rabbit holes as you continue to follow that train of illogic). For many Catholics though they have an equally troubling reaction, summed up with – “She was so lucky.” She was so lucky to be spared of original sin. She was so lucky to be chosen, to have found favor with God. She was so lucky to be invited into God’s love story of salvation.

Both miss that Mary’s being free of original sin comes from Jesus’ saving act on the Cross – she was the one chosen to be the first one to receive that redemption, in God’s providential design, that we experienced in our Baptisms.

Both can make the mistake of diminishing God’s wisdom, His vision, His plan to save humanity – utilizing, redeeming, transforming His own creation through His creatures.

Both can miss that God continues to invite us to unpacking and utilizing His gifts, especially the gift of free will.

Because we shouldn’t miss that Mary still had a choice here. We wouldn’t know her or her story had she said “no” to the angelic invitation. Just like there are countless billions of Christians who remain unknown, unremembered to humanity – who didn’t recognize or utilize the power of God’s grace in their lives. Why that is the case – there are countless possible reasons.  But perhaps they were too busy comparing themselves to others…seeing how this person or that person had received “God’s Favor” and in the process diminished, dismissed or ignored the many, many blessings in their own lives.

Mary’s “Yes” that we heard recounted in this Gospel passage is so beautiful, so memorable, so historic to us… especially celebrating it at this time of year.  Just hearing that Gospel, our minds and hearts naturally move to the Christmas story with Mary’s role in that. But there will be plenty of time to reflect on that.  What the Church invites us today is to look to Mary as a role model for us.

Mary had the same freedom from original sin as we experienced.

Mary was chosen – just as you and I have been chosen to be part of the story of God’s salvation, by bringing birth to Jesus Christ into this world – she biologically, historically – us spiritually in our day and time.

Mary was favored by God – but so have you and I. The same Jesus Mary carried in her womb and birthed, and held in her arms – we hold him, we embrace him, we receive Him into our bodies and souls as we consume His body and blood in the Eucharist.

Mary’s no more lucky than you and me. The difference was she never let go, never stopped listening, never wavered, and spent her life saying Yes to all that God had done and was doing in Her life.

May we look to her example, imitate her example in doing the same.   Then we’ll find the “luck” is in having been confronted and comforted by God’s grace and stunning mercy at every moment of our lives. When we lean into that, we too will be amazed at what He is able to do with and through us.

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