Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Today, we celebrate the fact that a tiny red newborn—delivered in less than desirable circumstances to a young peasant girl from the backwoods town of Nazareth—was no ordinary baby.
And as such, his mom was no ordinary mom.
Jesus: a tiny, squishy, mewing baby—yet also God. Divinity was intimately stamped into every last cell of His being. His very DNA was part human and part God.
One half Mary's. The other half? Inexplicably that of God Himself.
To be God is to be the polar opposite, the very foil, the immovable counteraction of sin. And to be the human form of God means that all the human elements must also be sinless. It means that everything Jesus inherited from his human mother had to be perfect enough to create the human side of God. And so, sweet Mary had to be as special as she was humble; the human half—the "Mary" half—of the DNA imprinted on every cell in Jesus's body could not for one nanosecond of earthly time be tainted by the stain of sin, original or otherwise.
Picture it with me . . .
Her human body—intertwined with her Son's body within her own at the moment God willed the Christ into existence . . .
Her body—that lent the God-son half her DNA, her cells which mixed with His in the intricate and delicate process of building His human body around His divine soul, her womb that formed the most basic of human elements like placenta and amniotic fluid to sustain God Himself, as their own cells intermingled, as nutrients and blood cells coursed back and forth from mother to God-son and God-son to mother . . .
Her body—that birthed Him to the world, that nursed and nourished and loved Him as he grew into God-toddler and God-teen . . .
And 33 years later, her body—that held the lifeless, empty shell of His body which she had so selflessly, lovingly, created within her own, her tears mingling with his blood as she cradled the divine body that had sprung from her own . . .
This is the humble, womanly body God chose to co-create the Divine Son. This extraordinary purpose is why humble Mary's body would not, could not be tainted by sin for even one moment of her existence.
And so, it means that Mary, sweet Mary from backwoods Nazareth, had to be sinless from the very moment her soul came into being. When God fused the first of Mary's physical elements with her spiritual elements, when God at the moment of her conception connected her soul with her body, she had to be immaculate.
Yes, God pre-redeemed Mary, the humblest of all the unknown maidens, so she could serve as the instrument fit enough, sinless eough, to bring us the Gift of our Savior who is above all sin.
This is what we celebrate today. That our God who took on the lowliness of skin for our sake was still so special, so perfect, that God the Father, through His singular grace, made the one human closest to His son almost as special and perfect.
This is why we elevate Mary to the highest place of all the Saints: not because of anything she did on her own, but because the relationship she had with our God was so intimate that it, by default, made her so selfless and special.
And if that's what our God can do for Mary—lowly, unknown Mary from the backwoods of Nazareth—then just imagine, dear sisters, what He will do for us as we draw closer and closer to Him.
Mary only wants one thing: for us to know her Son. Today, let us thank God for giving us the perfect example of what a real relationship with God looks like, and let us honor her selflessness by earnestly seeking her Son.
Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer and former soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.