Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1st Reading – GN 3:9-15, 20
Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4 Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.
2nd Reading (Feast Day!) EPH 1:3-6, 11-12
Gospel LK 1:26-38
Happy Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, often shortened to Feast of the Immaculate Conception!
This is a Marian feast day – the first of TWO this week (the second occurring this Saturday with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe). And – sneak peek at Advent Sunday #3, this will lead us straight to the Psalm for this coming Sunday’s liturgy – the Magnificat!
The feast of the Immaculate Conception refers not to the conceiving of Jesus, but of Mary. We Catholics hold that – only through the gift and grace of God – Mary was born free from sin.
When we say Mary was “born without sin”, it means that, by the grace and mercy of God, she was born free from the effects of Original Sin. The rest of us are subject to Original Sin, or the tendency to not always do the right thing. St. Paul sums it up best when he writes in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And again, in verse 19, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
I will give you an example: There was a period of time when I was in the same service group with two women who seemed to really dislike me. They were critical, openly telling me I was a rude and horrible person. They often drove me to tears (and anger). I never understood it. I was often quiet but not interactive; mainly because I was very tired when I arrived at this group. I was homeschooling multiple children at the time (and mothering!) and had a very active toddler. My mind was on other things (mainly sleep), but I imagine I might have come off as snobby. I didn’t mean to, and they never really got to know me. They just egged each other on to say hurtful things to me, usually within my hearing.
Now, had I been Mary – without the effects of Original Sin – I would have prayed and made up my mind to always be kind in return, no matter how these women behaved. And because of God’s merciful grace, being without the tendency to sin, I would have done exactly that – been kind, never losing my temper or my smile.
I am NOT Mary, and I suffer from the effects of Original Sin. I did pray and I did decide to be kind to these women, but there were times when they made me so angry and hurt that I lost my temper with them in return. I scowled back; some days I didn’t try to be nice at all! I wanted to do the right thing, but I didn’t always manage to carry it out. I always regretted losing my temper and always resolved to do better – that’s what we have to do. But, like St. Paul says, I wanted to do good but kept messing it up!
So, we honor Mary, as God honored her for her “yes” to being the mother of Jesus. She could have said “no” or “maybe not”, but she said yes, in spite of all her fears and unsure-ity.
We are ALL called to be more like Mary, to trust in the plan of God for our lives. Let us pray with her: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.””