Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:26-38 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Today marks perhaps one of the most misunderstood feasts in the Church—the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Some think this feast refers to Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, but that’s actually celebrated on the Feast of the Annunciation, which transpires nine months before we celebrate Christmas.
Others believe today signifies that Mary herself was conceived by supernatural means (just like Jesus), but that’s not indicated anywhere in Scripture or Church Tradition.
When the Archangel Gabriel declares in today’s Gospel, “Hail! Full of grace!” he is telling us that Mary is very special indeed; she is filled with God’s grace and is therefore without spot or blemish – she is immaculate.
I think Mary herself would agree that today’s Feast, as magnificent as it is, reflects more on her Divine Son than it does on her. You see, as difficult as this may be to grasp (at least for my scattered brain!), Mary was saved from the effects of original sin from the very instant she was conceived in St. Ann’s womb, not because of anything she would do, but because of Who her Son is.
Almighty God saved Mary in anticipation of her role as Theotokos–the God-bearer–so that she would be a pure and holy tabernacle to carry Our Lord.
It makes sense to me that God, Who is pure goodness and Love itself, would allow for the purest vessel imaginable to nurture and bear His Son.
So, where does this day leave modern-day sinners like me, who are most definitely not full of grace from the moment of our conception? I think we humbly come before Mary the Immaculate, imploring her help to not only hear God’s call, but for the courage to cooperate with His will, just as she did.
We are all called to heed God’s precious call upon our lives. What is Jesus saying to you today? How can Mary lead you closer to her Divine Son?
Dear Mary, when life is busy and my responsibilties and worries distract me, help me to quiet my body, mind, and heart so that I may hear and obey the will of my Heavenly Father just as you did. Amen.
Copyright 2017 Heather Renshaw
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