Every year when we celebrate this Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary – I try to underline for everyone that this feast is about Mary being conceived in her Mother Anna’s womb (Jesus’ Grandmother) free of original sin. It’s okay if you’re still confused. We don’t have a lengthy Gospel encounter on that – it’s a theological doctrine of the Catholic Church based upon tradition and lengthy reflection over the centuries on a particular line from scripture that we just heard. When the angel first arrives he addresses Mary as “full of grace” revealing that from the first moment of Mary’s existence, she was fully graced and without the stain of original sin. It’s understandable if that gets overlooked in light of the rest of the Gospel. Hearing how Jesus’ is conceived in Mary’s womb without her losing her virginity (the story of the Annunciation) is a big deal. And a few weeks before Christmas, it’s easy for us to simply zero in on that.
Hi everyone here’s my homily for the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY December 8, 2020. Thanks so much for stopping by to read this and even more for sharing it on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and everywhere else people share social media posts and your feedback and comments! For the audio version you can get them at SOUNDCLOUD click HERE or from ITUNES as a podcast HERE. Thanks again… I hope you and yours experience all of God’s blessings today and always! In Christ – Father Jim
I also think this gives people a mistaken understanding of Mary. There’s this sense that if she was free from original sin, then she was like a super hero already. The angel coming to her was a mere formality – she had no choice other than to say “yes” to God’s plan.
Think about something though: Mary was as free from original sin as you and I were after we were baptized. That’s the heart of this celebration today. God already knew what He would accomplish with Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection – and Mary’s being free of original sin is a result of that once and for all time sacrificial, redemptive act. So yes she was full of grace, yes she had found favor with God…
But so do you and I. In Jesus’ saving us in our Baptisms… In our being incorporated into His body as we receive His Body and Blood in the Eucharist – we too are full of grace, we too find favor with God.
The difference lies in the importance of remembering that… allowing our lives to be defined by that. A few verses later, Mary will say “the Almighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His name. His mercy is from age to age.” She has known God and she knows God. She knows He is worthy of her trust. She knows the plan He has for her is better than the one she had already imagined that she and her betrothed Joseph had already imagined. That faith, that trust is what enables her to say “Yes” to the angel- “Yes” to God. It’s born of a history of remembering what God has done and would continue to do, not just for Mary, but for all of us.
Mary’s example is meant to cause us to do the same… to reflect and remember what God has done and continues to do – not just for each of us individually, but for humanity. Can we recall how the “Almighty has done great things” for us? Can we contemplate that history of goodness from age to age? Can we humbly imagine that the same God has a plan, has something he has conceived of for the world right here, right now in 2020 that involves you in… that somehow each and everyone of us figure in to God’s plan for bringing Jesus Christ to birth each and every day? It’s in our ability to remember and in our willingness to echo Mary’s response, where we respond to our Heavenly Father to say Yes to His word – that we do our part in God’s plan of salvation for all the world.