Dec. 8, 2015 Tuesday: Immaculate Conception
Around the world today, we celebrate another beautiful feast day for our Blessed Mother, the feast of her immaculate conception. Though the feast is celebrating Mary’s conception, the gospel reading is about Jesus’ conception. Our Gospel story is about a young girl, perhaps 14 years old, who receives a visit from an archangel. This is no normal visit – the archangel isn’t there to play cards or have dinner - Archangel Gabriel is there with a special message. The angel tells Mary, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High….” I’ve often wondered how frightened Mary felt after that visit by Archangel Gabriel. Imagine, a young girl learning that she will bear the Messiah who will ultimately change the world. She didn’t receive a detailed description from Archangel Gabriel about the meaning of the message or how bearing the messiah would impact her life.
While Mary might have been frightened by the visit from the angel, she knew that she was not alone. When Archangel Gabriel visited her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” How often throughout the rest of her life she must have recalled those words and been comforted by them. Knowing the Lord was with her allowed her to raise the child Jesus, be with Him during His public ministry, ponder the events of Jesus’ life and walk with Him on the journey to the Cross. Her life was a life of prayer as she “kept all these things in her heart.”
Blessed Mother is not just a figure who lived 2000 years ago and then vanished from our life. We can learn so much from her life and she can help us in our own. Blessed Mother has been where we are or have been. She walks with us each day, always drawing us to her Son. Mary is the woman facing an unexpected pregnancy. She is the teenager realizing that all her plans and dreams have suddenly been changed. Mary is the refugee seeking sanctuary. She’s an expectant mother, waiting joyfully to see the face of her child. She’s the grieving mother holding the body of her deceased son.
When Blessed Mother was conceived in her mother’s womb, she was given a great gift to trust God with great love, to generously and freely give all of herself as a gift to others. It was to this Immaculate Heart that her Son was conceived. God desires to mold our own hearts to be like hers so that we may receive Jesus and give Jesus to those we meet.
Hail Mary, full of grace...