Kecharitomene: A homily for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today we celebrate that, in point of fact, Mary was conceived without sin, and so she is perfectly filled with grace, that she is filled with godliness, power, stainless beauty–that she is holy and without blemish as our second reading says, that she is without spot or wrinkle as today’s preface says.

Mary is full of grace and today we celebrate she always has been, from the moment of her conception she has been.  It’s worth thinking about, that phrase “full of grace” which the angel Gabriel speaks to Mary and which we echo at our every Hail Mary. That phrase is our translation of the Greek word Kecharitomene. The word, in Greek, is a perfect passive participle (e.g., abandoned house, spoken word, parked car, etc). Like any participle, the perfect passive participle is basically an adjective. Further, because the participle is perfect, this action happened in the past, and since it is also passive, the action happened to whatever noun it is modifying.  What does this mean?  Msgr.: “Thus Gabriel, in using this word, was confessing that Mary had already been graced.”

Our Blessed Virgin has been filled with grace, filled with spotlessness since the start, and she is thus the perfect path God has prepared for the Lord to enter the world. The same blood that filled her veins would fill the Lord’s in her womb. No wonder she had to be filled with grace from the start.  Today we thank our good God for Mary’s presence in our lives and as that with her help, we too might be filled with grace and become channels through which our God comes to this earth.