December 8, 2012
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary : patronal feast of the USA
Luke 1: 26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Full of Grace
God is a poet it seems. In our history, He has woven a beautiful symmetry and meter that gets better and better the more we savor it. In the proto-gospel of Genesis, we see that God’s gratuitous response to the fall is already foreshadowed. God tells the serpent, “I will put enmities between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed.” This enmity comes to a grand climax in the passion of Christ, who is the seed of Mary. The promised redemption was prepared from the beginning, and the parallels between our fall and redemption illustrate this.
Whereas the original sin of Adam is first manifested by Eve, the salvation of Jesus is first manifested in Mary, preserved from the stain of that sin. Whereas Adam, reaching out for the fruit that wasn’t his by right, closed the gates of Paradise, Jesus, emptying Himself of what was His by right, opened the gates to a greater Paradise.
Eve came from Adam’s side. The New Adam, Jesus, came from Mary, the New Eve. Eve persuaded Adam to condemn us. Mary continually prays for our salvation. Mary is as tied into the salvation by Jesus Christ of humankind as Eve is tied into the fall of Adam and all of humankind. Mary is the Immaculate Conception, the prototype of the new creation. Her preservation from the stain of sin from the very beginning of her existence means that she is, indeed, full of grace. And she is Our Blessed Mother, made explicitly so by Christ on the cross.
When we become adopted daughters and sons, and Jesus becomes our brother, we too begin to become as Mary was from the beginning: holy in God’s sight by the grace of Jesus Christ. Thus, in Mary, full of Grace, we have our model and our hope. She was from her conception what we hope to become.
—Fr. John Brown, S.J.
Let us pray with the Angel Gabriel who first called out to Mary with the title “Full of Grace” as we celebrate her Immaculate Conception:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
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