“But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4-5
God’s ‘fullness of time’ – the beginning of the fulfillment of His Divine Plan of Salvation – began the night our Saviour, Jesus Christ was born. But first, there was a time of preparation:
- God planned it: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15).
- Isaiah prophesied it: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is 7:14).
- The angel, Gabriel, promised it: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Lk 1:31).
But it was in Mary’s fiat – “Let it be to me according to your word” – (Lk 1:38) that it was accomplished.
To prepare for Jesus’ birth, Mary had been preserved from the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. We call this the Immaculate Conception.1 While we were in Jerusalem, we had the opportunity to visit the Church of St. Anne. Completed by the Crusaders in 1138, this imposing Romanesque church was built over the spot where we believe that Mary was born.2 The remains of the house of St. Joachim and St. Anne are in the crypt below. It is a church renowned for its acoustics – and we quickly found out why when we joined together in singing Immaculate Mary.
This beautiful, simple church reminds us that it was through the faith and obedience of many people that the way was prepared for that auspicious day. In a similar way, we must also prepare our hearts in order for God to act in our lives.
– Sharon van der Sloot
1 The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated each year on December 8th. The Feast of the day that Mary was born – the Nativity of Mary – is celebrated each year on September 8th, exactly 9 months after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
2 The church stands next to the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the crippled man (Jn 5:2-18). It is also near the Churches of the Flagellation and the Condemnation, which mark the beginning of the Via Dolorosa – the path that Jesus walked on His way to Calvary.