Today’s Gospel: Luke 1, 26-38 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
What a celebration this is. It is, of course, the patronal feast-day of the United States of America; we, therefore, have a lot to live up to. Today’s Gospel reminds us of the pivotal moment in God’s plan. Mary selflessly accepts the will of the Heavenly Father and the final phase of our Salvation History is underway.
We hear Luke’s account of the event – probably drawn from the words of Our Lady herself – in March at the Solemnity of the Annunciation, and later in Advent. But today, we take a step back to appreciate God’s work of preparation for the birth of the Word, his Son. In this, God anticipates Mary’s ‘Yes’ by allowing her to be the most perfect vessel from whom the Word could take flesh. And it is revealed to Mary and to us in the words of the God’s messenger (most aptly-named, Gabriel, the Word of God) how she has been made ready for her vocation.
‘Hail, full of grace’ he greets her, and reveals that Mary has already received the benefit of Christ’s redemptive power and is blessed with the grace of Baptism by being made one with Christ from her very conception – a natural conception, of course, but an immaculate one. For it is in Baptism that we are released from the stain of original sin, from the guilt of Adam’s pride. Of course, we retain the freedom to sin despite our being bound to Christ, and we frequently do; but Mary, spotless and without any inheritance of the sin of Adam, confirms God’s trust in her with those selfless words of acquiescence ‘May it be done to me according to your word.’ And Mary remains pure and steadfast to the day she is carried to heaven.
We too have been made immaculate by the grace of Baptism, but why do we so easily succumb to temptation and forget that we, like Mary, live in the presence of the Saviour?
O Blessed Mother of God, despite being bound to your Son I daily revert to sinful ways, pray for me that I may have the strength to resist the urges of Satan. O Heavenly Father and the Author of all things pure, help me to hold firm to your Mother’s example of the selfless acceptance of your will so that I may satisfactorily fulfill the vocation you have given me. Amen.
Copyright 2016 Julien Chilcott-Monk
Julien Chilcott-Monk is a musician and author living in Winchester in the UK. His books – mostly devotional and catechetical – include ‘A Calendar of Catholic Devotion’ (SCM Canterbury) and ‘The Way of the Passion’ (St Paul’s Media). A full list of his works can be seen at julienchilcott-monk.com