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Immaculate Conception

A famous artist once held an exhibition of all his choice paintings. One painting which bore the face of a woman was extraordinarily beautiful.

san luis, fr. bel“Who’s this?” spectators ask. “Is she your girlfriend?” “That,” the artist replied smiling, “is the portrait of my mother when she was younger. You know how it is. One has to give the best for his mother.”

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We can say the same of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, whose feast we celebrate today. Incidentally, the Immaculate Conception was chosen as the principal patroness of the Philippines.

As the artist of that beautiful painting put it, “One has to give his best for a mother.” That is what God had bestowed on Jesus’ mother — that special honor and privilege to be conceived WITHOUT the stain of Original Sin.

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The dogma (Church’s official teaching) of the Immaculate Conception means everyone born in this world starts life in a state of dis-grace before God.

We lack the friendship of God or so-called sanctifying grace. However, God made an exception of all humanity and that was Mary. She is “our tainted nature’s solitary boast!”

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SPIRITUAL PREPARATION. We may not be able to reach Mary’s level of sanctity but it gives us a hint of how we can prepare for the coming of Christmas. It teaches us that Christmas is not all Sta. Claus, Christmas bonus, exchange gifts, eats, drinks, and merry-making.

Like the sinless mother of Jesus Christ, we should prepare ourselves spiritually. And how do we do this?

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St. John the Baptist, the Christ forerunner, cries out, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths, every valley shall be filled up.”

John’s words are metaphorical and do not refer to public works like repairing our potholed roads. It means rather that our MORALLY CROOKED ways must be straightened, the valleys of our pride, laziness, vices, and corrupt practices must be leveled.

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Once an old friend confided to me he had been trying hard to turn away from his vices. “How do you do it?” I asked. “Father, through will power. I gave up smoking through will power, drinking through will power…” “How about womanizing?” I butted in. He paused momentarily and said candidly: “Father, POWER FAILURE!” “But I’m trying hard to overcome it.”

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Then there’s the need for reconciliation with God through the Sacrament of Confession, and with people we’re not on talking terms with. Let’s not be like that lady who told me, “Father, I already forgave my enemy. But I don’t want to see her face again!” How can you forgive when you refuse to let go of your inner hatred?

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May the feast of the Immaculate Conception inspire us to keep on striving to change for the better, to be a loving person, morally upright, and caring for the needy.

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LOOKING FOR A GOOD CHRISTMAS GIFT? Buy copies of my books Stories of Life and Laughter (4 Volumes) available at National and Catholic book stores.

The proceeds will go to the educational fund of poor seminarians. Call Logos Publications at Sta. Cruz, Manila or e-mail: info@logospublications.com.

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