The Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the solemn belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. It is universally celebrated on 8th December, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated on 8th September. The Immaculate Conception is one of the most important Marian feasts in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, and is celebrated worldwide. It is a public holiday in more than 20 countries around the world.
In Malaysia, although the feast is not a public holiday or day of obligation; a respectable number of faithful were present in churches and chapels where Mass was celebrated.
Here at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SHC), some 160 parishioners were present for the 7pm Mass, where Fr. Jude Miranda from Taiping was the main celebrant, and parish priest Fr. Edwin Peter the con-celebrant; who proclaimed the Gospel and preached the homily.
The parish priest elaborated on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He quoted the Gospel Reading (Luke 1:26-28) "Rejoice, so highly favoured. The Lord is with you".
“Grace is a favour. It also means mercy from God. Mary did not deserve anything but a gracious gift that God gave her without asking anything. Mary received this great gift of God. For us too, we receive graces from God. Today this feast goes to the ninth month, with the Nativity of Mary on 8th September, to celebrate her birth.” Fr. Edwin said.
However, he cautioned the need to be aware, “Those gifts given to Mary is full of grace. Mary was given a special position in the Church. She has the fullness of grace, for being the vessel, the ark of the covenant that bears the Son of God. We too have grace, but not the fullness. Mary was made sinless, her immaculate conception: as she was destined to bear the Messiah into the world. We are called, like Mary, to cooperate. Mary cooperating to be the handmaid of the Lord. As we celebrate this feast of Mary, we must say like her ‘Thy will be done’, so that we too can become channels of God's grace in the world.”
In conclusion, Fr. Edwin remarked about Mary’s obedience. The Legion of Mary (Legionaries) of the Sacred Heart parish, and Chapel of our Lady of Good Health, Kg. Pandan are only a small group, but they, like Mary do works of mercy. He invited the assembly to pray that they too, like Mary, be channels of mercy.