In her apparitions in both Fatima, Portugal, and Lourdes, France, Mary referenced the Immaculate Conception. To St. Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, she identified herself saying, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” But, is there any biblical basis of this dogma? Was Mary really immaculately conceived?
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is the Catholic dogma that the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, was conceived in her mother’s womb without the stain of original sin. How is that possible?
In Exodus 3, when Moses first saw God in the burning bush, there is such a thing as holy ground. God told Moses to take off his sandals, because he was standing on holy ground, where God Himself was present on earth. In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was considered very holy by the Jews because it contained the Word of God. The Holy of holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was originally placed in Solomon’s Temple, was so holy that only the Jewish high priest could enter it once a year. So what does all of it mean? If the desert where God walked was a holy ground, how much more holy would Mary have to be to have God live inside her for nine months? If the Ark of the Covenant was pure and holy because it contained the Word of God in stone tablets, how much more pure and holy would Mary have to be to contain the Word of God made flesh in her womb? Very pure and holy indeed.
This preservation of Mary from original sin was prefigured in the Old Testament. In Genesis 3:15 (KJV), enmity was placed as a mutual hatred between Mary and sin, between Christ and sin, as it reads: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” How can, therefore, Mary be stained with sin if there is a hostility between the two of them? A common sense.
Would the Lord simply allow Himself live in a sinful womb for nine months? Of course not. God was interested in the condition of the mother’s womb. For even a great, but imperfect, judge of Israel, Samson, God was directive about the state of the mother during the pregnancy. In Judges 13:3-4 (ESV), it reads: “And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean'” (see also Judges 13:7,13-14). How much more would God be interested in the state of His own mother’s womb?!
Moreover, in the very words of Gabriel the Archangel in Luke 1:28 (KJV), Mary was called the “highly favored one” or kecharitomene (in Greek). If Mary was a sinner, how could she be highly favored by God Himself? Paul the Apostle wrote in Romans 6:14: “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” That is why when she heard the angelic greeting, she troubled and confused (cf. Luke 1:29 KJV). But remember that God’s grace was not given in time after Mary accepted the archangel’s word. The Church teaches that this grace was given from the very beginning of her life. For if the people of God was chosen to be holy and blameless before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4 KJV), how much more would Mary be chosen to be sinless before His incarnation?
Well, the anti-Catholics would argue that Mary also need a Savior, thus making her a sinner like any other men. Refuting their ignorance, they failed to know that the Holy Catholic Church actually agrees that Mary was saved. Indeed, Mary needed a Savior. However, Mary was saved from sin in a most sublime manner. She was given the grace to be saved completely from sin, being preserved from actually committing any sinful act. Take note, salvation is not only exclusive to the forgiveness of sin being actually committed but also the protection from commission. In Jude 24-25, it reads: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of His glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever.”
Mary is indeed preserved from the original sin because:
- The physical body of Christ prepared by the Father (cf. Hebrew 10:5 KJV) was taken from Mary alone and not shared from any other human being.
- The precious blood that Christ poured to redeem the world from sin (cf. Ephesians 1:7 KJV) is also the same blood that ran through Mary’s veins.
Remember that Mary conceived the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit and not because of any sexual relation with any man even with Joseph (cf. Luke 1:34; Matthew 1:18 KJV). Thus, the body and blood of Christ were all taken physically from Mary and no other.
The simple truth is: Mary was preserved from the original sin by the grace of God because of her fruit-to-be, Jesus Christ. Matthew 12:33 (KJV) is very clear on this, “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” Mary is indeed blessed among women so as the fruit of her womb (cf. Luke 1:42 KJV) “for no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit (Luke 6:43 KJV).
“For nothing is impossible with God.” —Luke 1:37 NIV