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Mary’s Sinlessness and Our Salvation

Photograph by Adrienne Taylor
Sinless suffering.

Have you ever thought about what it would have been like if Mary hadn’t been sinless?  After pondering on Jesus’s adherence to the fourth commandment (Commanded to Love Mary) I realized that by the implications of the commandment, to honor thy father and mother, Mary had to be sinless.  Also, in writing this article, I’ve come to realize how the Church’s Marian teachings highlight both God’s sovereignty and the utmost importance of our salvation.

In God’s perfect plan for our salvation, He chose to involve Mary from beginning to end.  The Holy Spirit did not descend upon her until she gave her consent to Angel Gabriel.  Likewise, Mary was compelled to give her unwavering consent throughout the entire gruesome passion of her Son as He died for our sins.  Mary’s sinlessness is less about her never having done anything “bad” and more about the relationship God had (has) with her.

In the Gospel of Matthew (16) we read about Jesus calling Simon blessed, renaming him to Peter and then building His Church upon him.  Jesus promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail over His Church!  Yet, the Gospel of Matthew continues on to record Jesus next exclaiming to St. Peter, “Get behind me Satan!”  This is quite a letdown for the next words uttered to our first pope.  What drew such a remark from our Savior?  Jesus had for the first time revealed to the disciples that He must suffer and die.  Naturally, St. Peter, who loved Jesus with a love we can only hope to achieve, cried out upon hearing the news, “God forbid, Lord!  No such thing shall ever happen to you.”  How could this cry out of love be worthy of being attributed to Satan?  The Catechism provides several definitions of sin, the first of which concludes, “… It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’”   St. Peter, out of love for Jesus, committed a sin against the eternal law by desiring Christ would not suffer and die.

What would have been the implications for our salvation if Mary had harbored desires contrary to the eternal law?  Sadly, though by God’s perfect plan, St. Joseph had passed away sometime between Jesus’s childhood and adulthood, but, Mary remained by Jesus’s side through His death, resurrection, and ascension.  By consequence of Jesus’s perfect adherence to the fourth commandment, Mary had an unfathomable amount of power.  When she expected a reluctant Jesus to turn water into wine, Mary demonstrated the power she had over her Son.  This power, of course, was not of her own.  God willingly gave her this invincible kind of power over Jesus when creating a mother for Himself, and God found it fitting for her to be beside Jesus with this power throughout His life.  Could God have allowed this in His plan had Mary been ordinary?

Photograph by Adrienne Taylor
Mary with her expired Son.

Imagine how much Satan lusted after the power of Mary.  Satan tried to tempt Jesus in His weakness during His 40 days in the desert, but of course failed because Jesus is the all powerful God.  However, Mary was a mere human.  Since sin, in its most basic definition, is anything that separates one from God, and because Satan must be rather powerful himself to be a worthy adversary of God’s, it stands to reason that Satan would have been waiting for any opportunity for Mary to have been separated from God in order to successfully worm his way in.  Satan could have corrupted Mary even through original sin, since original sin is being created in a state separated from God.  All Satan needed to happen was for Mary to show even a little maternal remorse at any crucial part of Jesus’s passion, or utter words against God’s eternal law like St. Peter did, and Jesus would have been conflicted in His mission.  His parents would not have been united.  He would have felt compelled to carry forth with honoring His Father, but at the expense of dishonoring His mother, which would have been sinful.  Or He would have been compelled, in His perfection, to honor His mother’s wishes and avoid suffering the death upon the cross, but that contradicted His Father’s plan.  God’s perfect plan for our salvation demanded a perfect sacrifice, a sinless Jesus.  God’s perfect plan for our salvation also included Mary every step of the way.  In order for Mary to have been allowed to be present throughout Jesus’s life, and in order for Jesus to remain sinless while adhering perfectly to the fourth commandment, Mary too, had to be sinless, she had to be perfectly in union with God’s eternal law.

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the singular most important event in salvation history, would we expect anything less than the best possible plan from our God?   Our Church’s teachings on Our Lady demonstrate just how great God is and just how important our salvation is to Him.  Let us be thankful that He made His Mother so miraculously holy!  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”, this is the first commandment with a promise.  Ephesians 6:1-2

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Amen