Friday, December 08, 2006

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

1)Today is a Holy Day of Obligation. Mass at 7:30 pm, SAA Church.
2)Adoration tonight, 6-7 pm, SAA Church
First of all, let’s be sure we know whose conception we are celebrating today. It is Mary’s immaculate conception that we celebrate, not Jesus’s. Many people come to Church today thinking that it is the feast of Jesus’s immaculate conception, but it is Mary’s. This feast celebrates that Mary was freed from sin from the first moment of her existence, from the first moment of her conception. Our liturgical calendar is consistent with our theology. Today, December 8 is Mary’s conception; nine months from today we will celebrate her birthday, September 8. Likewise, we celebrate Jesus’s conception on March 25, with the feast of the Annunciation which we just heard in the Gospel; and, then, we celebrate his birthday nine months later, December 25.

So, Mary is “full of grace” from the first moment of her conception. She is full of God’s life, full of His love, her entire life. Her perfection begins in the womb of her mother, St. Ann. God preserved her goodness so that she would have no stain of sin from the start. She has no stain of Original Sin, and thus no imperfections. Mary is perfect. She always said ‘yes’ to God, ‘yes’ to Christ. She was conceived and raised in order to be ready for when the angel Gabriel appeared to her with a most profound message. He reveals God’s Plan that she will be the mother of the Savior of the world.

When Gabriel appeared to Mary, she was a teenager…about 14 or 16 years old. When I ask our teenage girls here what would have been their reaction if an angel came to their bedroom one night to ask them to be the mother of the Savior, they might say, ‘um, I think you have the wrong house. It’s a few houses down with the lights on’. What a tremendous request God makes of Mary through the angel! And, Mary said ‘yes’! “May it be done to me according to your word”.

God could have chosen any way for his Son to come into the world. And yet, He chose a woman…He chose Mary to be the instrument of Salvation. He chose her to be the perfect vessel through whom Christ would come to us. On this feast, we see God’s Wisdom because He began her perfection from the very beginning. Mary had to be perfect, her womb had to be the perfectly pure vessel for Christ. How blessed is she to be the Ark of the Covenant! Scripture confirms this by saying that Mary “is most blessed among women”.

Mary is the perfect model for us. She is the example because she always said ‘yes’ to Christ. It is because of her ‘yes’ to God’s Plan that Salvation entered the world. Everything we have in Christ, everything we have in our faith, comes to us through Mary. We thank God for her. We thank God in a special way for her today, in honoring her Immaculate Conception. The best way for us to say thank you is in this Eucharist. In a few minutes, we will have union with God through Mary. Thanks be to God, we have the Eucharist... through Mary.

Just as Christ comes to us through Mary, so we are to go to Him through Mary. It would be especially appropriate for us today to give her some kind of honor and veneration. We could pray a ‘Hail Mary’ or Memorare or a decade of the rosary, or even a full rosary. In so doing, we are not praising Mary; we praise God alone and Mary is not God. Rather, we praise God for her and honor her. We thank God that she said ‘yes’ her whole life to Christ. We thank God for her, and ask her to pray for us. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death”.

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