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Friday, August 8, 2014

The meaning of the Immaculate Conception

By David Torkington

Byzantine Madonna and Child

Of course I can’t remember being conceived nor growing into a baby in my mother’s womb. Nor for that matter do I remember being baptised a week later. I was totally dependent on my mother for everything, not just in those first weeks of my life, but for many months to come. I, not only depended on my mother, for my physical growth and development, but for my spiritual development too.

I received my first experience of God’s love from her love of me. Exactly the same happened to Jesus. St Paul said that he was ‘like us in every way but sin’, that’s how God had planned things from the beginning. That’s why at the very moment that he decided that his Son would be made flesh, that decision included having a human mother. As Blessed John Duns Scouts put it: - ‘if God willed the end he must have willed the means’. If he chose to enter into this world as a human being he must have a human mother, for without a human mother he could not be a true human being, the incarnation simply could not happen.

The hermit, Sister Wendy Beckett, said that she had a profound and vivid experience of God, which determined the rest of her life, when she was only four years of age. Before that her experience of God came primarily through her mother. She was unusual, because it usually takes much longer before an inner spiritual capacity develops sufficiently to enable a person to have a direct and independent experience of the love of God.

In my case it took years. I have no doubt that Jesus had such an experience at an even earlier age than Sister Wendy, but nor do I doubt that before that he was dependent on his mother for the experience of God’s love. That’s why from the very beginning, Blessed John Duns Scotus insisted there must be no barrier in her that could possibly prevent the love of God from being transmitted through her to her son, Jesus. That’s why he was so emphatic in demanding that she must therefore have been immaculately conceived, so that neither nature nor nurture would prevent God’s love ensuring that her son would be born and grow up as a perfect human being, and the perfect person to draw another human being into the perfect communion that he had with his Father.

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