The Dawn of Salvation

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Jn 1:5)

The light is Christ. He is a brilliant light. He is an intense light. He is an all-pervading light. Needless to say, His radiance is anything but gentle on the eyes of souls wandering in the darkness of sin. He is to their eyes like high-beam headlights on a dark and winding backcountry county road: blinding.

In order for such a powerful light to be received, the eye needs to be prepared by warmer and softer lights, like the amber light of dawn greeting a new summer day.

In salvation history, Mary is that dawn. Mary is that softer light. Mary is that preparation for Christ.

In fulfillment of this role, she herself was prepared. This is the meaning of her Immaculate Conception. It is the immediate preparation in the life of Mary to become the Bearer of the Light who is Christ.

In preparation for the splendor of His goodness, grace, and glory, Mary was given a special grace and an anticipation of glory. From the very “instance of her conception” she was preserved from Original Sin.

In celebrating Mary’s Immaculate Conception today, we are not necessarily celebrating a Marian title or a Marian feast. We are celebrating God’s gift to Mary. We are celebrating one of the great things that the Almighty has done in her (cf. Lk 1:49). On account of God’s Providence, it is as much a day to rejoice with Mary as it is a day to rejoice in Mary.

We rejoice with Mary by giving thanks to God. By turning our hearts and minds towards the Father who loved her from all eternity as the Mother of His Son; towards the Son who loved her from all eternity as the Mother of His choosing; and towards the Holy Spirit who loved her from all eternity as the Mother made fruitful through His Love.

But we also rejoice in Mary. We rejoice in her by taking her as our inspiration. Mary’s Immaculate Conception was the graced preparation for her Divine Motherhood. These two mysteries are existentially linked together by Mary’s freedom; by her willingness and choice to ground herself in Jesus Christ.

If it was on account of Him that she was preserved from original sin and if it was for Him that she was prepared to be a mother, then it would be through Him, with Him, and in Him that she would stake the course of her life.

This is how Mary loves. And this is the higher love she nudges us to tend towards also. This the higher love we are all called to stake our lives on: Jesus Christ, the Light of World and the Word made flesh.

If as the poet says, “Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces”[1]

…then we can certainly find Him in Mary. She is the one who has most staked her life—and grounded her freedom—in Christ (cf. Gal 2:20). Making her the woman who best prepares and prolongs His coming into the world.

Seize the day and make it all Hers!


Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE


[1] Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”; see Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985).