“He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.” Ephesians 1:4
On December 8 we celebrate Mary’s Immaculate Conception, one of the highlights of the Advent season.
Before “the foundation of the world”—before God created anything—he had Mary in mind to become the mother of his Son. Because she would carry God himself in her womb, he arranged that Mary would not be contaminated by the sin of Adam and Eve. She would be the holy, blameless, and immaculate God-bearer. The Lord knew in advance how Mary would respond to his invitation, but he did not impose his will on her. Out of love and respect, he wanted her to freely choose to say yes.
Mary was not the only one the Lord had in mind before the foundation of the world. He was also thinking of you and me, loving us, and wanting to bring us into his family. Each time I confront this reality in Ephesians, chapter 1, I am awestruck.
When I imagine that moment of creation, I’m stunned. Here’s God busy speaking into existence a universe of 300 billion trillion stars, yet at the same time he’s thinking of me. “I will create Bert Ghezzi,” he said to himself. “I love him, want him to be happy in my family, and have work for him to do.” And he thought of you in the same way.
Most amazingly, he went ahead and created us, even though he knew what we would be like. Unlike immaculate Mary, we would be sinners. So he created us with the intention of giving us the grace of redemption through his Son. As he had foreknown Mary, he knew how we would respond to his love. And he left us free to say yes to his invitation to join his family and to live for him.
Now we get to the heart of the matter. God wanted to make us “holy and blameless before him in love” so that we too could become Christ-bearers. Of course, not in the same way as Mary, but carrying him spiritually in our hearts. He comes to us in baptism and makes his home in us, making Christ present to everyone we encounter.
So as Advent approaches its climax at Christmas, like Mary, may we freely choose to give ourselves fully to God, who comes to be with us in Christ.
(Image Credit: Theotokos, Efrem Carrasco, Manchester, UK)