Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
The most authentic witnesses of our faith, including many we remember in Scripture, make the paradoxical seem normal and the normal paradoxical. Take for example our belief that Eve, who disobeyed God with Adam in that original sin, became “the mother of all the living”. The average outside observer would say Eve does not deserve this honor because of her most grievous fault. To make sense of this, we turn to Mary, Mother of Mercy, who recognized divine involvement where others did not. Her faith recapitulates the faithlessness of our first mother, Eve.
As Joseph the dreamer said in Exodus about suffering, sin, and death: “God intended it for good.” In the midst of struggle, though, hope can seem impossible.
Think: What is preventing you from hope these days? What is the source of your anxiety?
It’s easy to forget that God has placed us in our current situations for a very good reason. His workings are “marvelous”, the psalmist reminds us. The epistle to the Ephesians tells us God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing, before the foundation of the world, so we may be holy and without blemish before Him. Thank God! Let today be a day where you ask new and exciting questions, find reasons to smile, thank someone who needs encouragement, make that long-overdue apology, and live in the joy of knowing that God’s fingerprints are all around you.
Luke the Evangelist points out in today’s Good News that Mary was ready when God sent the angel Gabriel. Of course, he came to her in a way she could never have expected. Afraid and not knowing what to do, she modeled the appropriate response when faced with what seemed impossible: she prayed.
How have you reacted lately to unexpected circumstances and when faced with big questions or decisions? What does God tell you in prayer he wants for you at this time? Are you ready to accept his call? Have you encountered God’s purifying grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation recently?
Today, the great Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we celebrate God making possible the coming of our savior. By Our Lady’s spotless example we find hope that we may know God’s presence and share His love with others. This life-changing love enters our very selves in the assenting “Amen” at the Eucharist, which signals acceptance of Divine Mercy into our lives in the same way as Mary’s “fiat…yes” at the Annunciation.
Pope Francis, Servus sevorum Dei, presents us with a challenge and a choice this Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins today. When facing those easiest to hate, we either turn inwards for solutions or we open the doors of our hearts to the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Together as a Church we pray today and always: Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy…
Copyright Alex Roth
Alex Roth grew up outside of Chicago, spent the past few years teaching elementary school in Brooklyn, NY, and is currently a Master of Divinity student at the University of Notre Dame. He hopes to be a saint by helping Catholic families and grade schools teach children to know, love and serve God and their neighbors. His prayers are with you this Advent season!