Friday, December 08, 2023

The Immaculate Conception is hope for us (homily)

There is frequently confusion about what we are celebrating today. 

I am determined to correct this mistake every chance I get.

Pop quiz: whose conception – whose beginning of life – 

are we commemorating today? 

Is it (a) Father Martin Fox? No.

Is it (b) Jesus Christ? No, because that would mean

he was conceived on Dec. 8 and born 17 days later. 

So that leaves (c) "Someone else." And that someone else is Mary.

Mary's birthday is September 8; back up nine months: December 8.

It’s Mary who is conceived immaculately, or, without sin.

We mark Jesus’ conception on March 25, 

nine months before Christmas.

So, again, the Immaculate Conception is about how Mary began her life.

If you’re wondering, then, why we use this Gospel, 

it is because it most clearly points to Mary’s Immaculate Conception. 

That’s in Luke’s choice of words – kecharitomene – 

which we translate, “full of grace.”

And the interesting thing is, to say Mary is “full of grace” 

is actually not strong enough.

Here’s a more literal sense of what the Archangel Gabriel said:

Hail, You who have been, and now are, 

perfectly, completely, and uniquely graced.

Get that? Mary was, and remains, 

perfectly, completely, and uniquely graced by God.

There it is: Mary has been free from sin 

from the very first instant of her life. 

Otherwise, it would not be true 

that she was “perfectly and completely” graced. 

Then there is another detail that confirms this. 

Later, Gabriel says, “the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” 

This unusual phrase refers back 

to the place of worship God told Moses to create at Mount Sinai.

God insisted that tabernacle be prepared perfectly.

How can we believe that God would have a higher standard 

for a tent in the desert, than he would for Mary herself?

The tent is a foreshadowing; Mary is the true tabernacle.

Remember, the first Eve – in the Garden – was conceived without sin. 

Would God do less for his own mother, Mary?

We might ask, what does all this mean to you or me?

This fills us with both confidence and joy.

God went to a whole lot of trouble, a terrific amount of planning. Why?

You are the reason. And so am I.

You and I were chosen; we were destined.

This all wasn’t done for Mary alone, or for Jesus alone.

The whole point is our eternal happiness!

Never doubt that you matter to God!

Today’s feast is the proof!

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