The Immaculate Conception and the Blame Game

“The Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men … flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.” (Lumen Gentium)

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, “La Inmaculada Concepción de Aranjuez,” c. 1675
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, “La Inmaculada Concepción de Aranjuez,” c. 1675 )

One of the sure evidences of original sin is the inbuilt mechanism of the blame game. When things go wrong, the first thing we do is blame others.

God: “Adam, did you eat the fruit?”

Adam: “Eve gave it to me.”

God: “Okay. Eve, did you eat the fruit?”

Eve: “The devil made me do it.”

This is what I encounter time and again in dealing with people (including myself) — the first instinct when something is wrong is to blame others. In fact, this is not only the first instinct, but the constant instinct, and it operates 24/7 at the micro and the macro level. 

We  blame our spouse. We blame our kids. We blame our parents, our boss, our colleagues, our neighbors. On the wider level we blame the priest, we blame the bishop, we blame the pope, we blame the president, we blame the senators, we blame the big businessmen, we blame the communists, we blame the fascists, we blame the right, we blame the left. We  blame the blacks, the whites, the immigrants, the natives, the rich, the poor.

It’s nonstop.

The one person you don’t blame is yourself.

Then the other half of this insane and dangerous aptitude and attitude is that while we blame other people for everything that’s wrong, we also expect everyone else to do everything for us. 

So not only is it their fault, but they were supposed to look after us and make everything right. Who did you think was going to clean your room? Who did you think was going to do your work for you? Who did you think was going to make the world perfect for you? Somebody else, but who? The fairies?

This is the insane immaturity of most people. They think somebody else is going to do everything for them. They don’t step up to the plate. They assume somebody else will do it. Then they turn around and blame everybody else for not doing it and not following through and not fixing the world for them and making their world a bad place to be.

This basic fault is my fault. It’s your fault. It’s the big fault line running through the human race. “It’s somebody else’s fault and somebody else is supposed to fix things for me.”

This is why the Immaculate Conception is so delightful — because God does start the work, but Mary picks up the ball and runs with it. She takes responsibility. She says, “The Lord has done great things for me. Let it be to me according to your word.” In other words, I’ll take the blame. I’ll pick up Eve’s trash. I’ll do the work with God. I won’t expect someone else to do it and I sure won’t blame anyone else.

This is also why the Christian faith is so refreshing, because right up front, the very first part of the deal is something called repentance. Right at the beginning we say, “Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. It’s my fault. It’s my fault. It’s my fault. I take the blame. What’s wrong with the world? I am, your sincerely…” Then one gets on with the work of doing something about it.

I can’t think of any other religion that so outlandishly stands the world on its head. Here is human nature — insistent that somebody else do everything and somebody else take all the blame, and then we come along and say — “No it’s your fault. You take the blame. Furthermore, you take the blame as much as you can for everybody else too. Like Mary did, you pick up their trash.”

In fact our whole religion revolves around the astounding truth that this is what Jesus Christ himself came to do: he came to take the blame. He came to do something about the problem. He took the responsibility. He embraced the fault. He accepted the blame. He paid the price. He picked up the trash and recycled it. He didn’t blame anybody and took all the blame himself.

The challenge is for us to do the same. A mature person takes the blame. A mature person doesn’t blame anyone else. Ever. A mature person takes responsibility and realizes if they don’t do it nobody will. A mature person is a person who is growing into the image of Christ.

One of the biggest problems I see in working with religious people is that they revert to their infantile state and refuse to take the blame. They continue to blame someone else. They do not take responsibility. They continue to tell themselves they are wonderful and there is nothing wrong with them, and as long as they do they must continue to blame someone else.

And that always leads to violence of some sort.

Remember Cain and Abel.