In the midst of our Advent journey this week, we celebrate the Solemnity of the
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8 – this year, it falls
on a Sunday during Advent so the Church celebrates it the following day, Monday.
Because of these calendar circumstances, it’s not a holy day of obligation this year.
Nonetheless, in order to celebrate the solemnity, I will offer Mass at 8:15am on Monday.
By God’s grace, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was born immaculate, conceived without
original sin and remained sinless all the days of her life. In this way, God prepared Mary
to conceive of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and give birth to Jesus. The
following is a reflection on the Annunciation to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Luke
1:26-38 (with help from Father Romanus Cessario, OP):
When Gabriel greets Mary, the whole world changes. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for
you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). Each and every human person is caught
up in the mystery that comes to life in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And
what we term “the grace of adoption” achieves its completion in baptism, when we are
called children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ.
The mystery begins when the Word becomes man in the immaculate womb of a
virgin whose name is Mary. Thenceforth Mary occupies a privileged place in the life
of Christians. Her womb is the world’s first tabernacle, as she carried God the Son, our
Savior, for nine months. In the womb of Mary, we are molded into the image of Jesus
Christ. We receive God’s favor. To live without God’s favor would leave us sterile and
alone – a frightening prospect. There is never cause for discouragement, however. God
made Mary immaculate to protect us from the vicious blackmail of the devil whose
voice, like the serpent in the garden, whispers, “You’ll never change. You’ll always be
alone.” Only God can change man’s original plight. And He did, as Jesus tells us after
His Passion, Death and Resurrection: “And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the
age” (Matthew 28:20). To announce this great reversal, God the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit made Mary immaculate from the first moment of her conception. Jesus Christ
gave to His mother Mary the graces of His Passion, Death and Resurrection ahead of
time. He could do that. He’s God. What happened to Mary in an instant happens to
us over time, by God’s grace. May we find consolation in her Immaculate Conception
– for Mary is a mother like none other, the mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
and therefore our spiritual mother. Like every good mom, she encourages us and always
prays for us to grow in the virtues of faith, hope and love. In her maternal mediation,
Mary Immaculate wants us to trust in and be holy companions of her Son, Jesus Christ,
the Only Savior of the world. May we be such trusting and holy disciples, bearing the
fruits of love, faith, joy, peace, patience and goodness, evermore intently this Advent.
With peace and prayers in Christ,