Today’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a celebration for everyone, a celebration of God’s perfect intention for every human person. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI declared “Mary is the greatest boast of the human race”. At her conception, a new way of being human is revealed. We suffer the division of original sin; Mary is the perfect capacity of our human nature.
In Mary, we find a perfectly pure heart. A heart that desires one thing, to love God and do His will perfectly. I love the way Fr, Michael Gaitley puts it, “a person is complex and complicated when they have all kinds of different desires. A person is simple when they have one desire”. I want to be simple! Of course Mary’s only thought was YES to the angel Gabriel’s announcement that God was asking her to be the Mother of God! The answers to questions become simple when a heart is motivated by a single desire.
In the first reading from Genesis we read the story of original sin. Eve’s desire for something other than God is the catalyst for her sin. In the same way, our alternate desires distract us from God and lead us to sin. Mary is called the New Eve because her perfect obedience to God’s will undoes the knot of sin caused by Eve’s disobedience. In our own lives, what specific desires cause division and keep us from having a pure heart?
Jesus promise is great for those who cultivate a pure heart. “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). What does it mean to “see” God? St. Thomas Aquinas wrote “a heart which is free from thoughts and affections alien to God, is like a temple consecrated to the Lord, in which we can contemplate Him even in this world”. The world around us is a voice that speaks to us. When our hearts are divided the voice distracts us, pulls us away from God and focuses our attention on itself. As the desire in our heart to love God grows, the more the outside world begins to speak of Him. It becomes a sign of God’s presence and a place we encounter Him. The pure in heart are graced with a sacred sensitivity, attentive to every hint of heaven’s proximity.
So let the purification begin! This Advent, let’s give our hearts to Mary and ask her to undo the knots that complicate and divide them. May our prayer be for undivided, pure & simple hearts that see God within and around us.
—Colleen Scariano, Co-Founder – SoulCore, Catholic Speaker