Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dec. 8, 2016: Immaculate Conception

12-8-16 Immaculate Conception

Most of us are busy during this season preparing gifts for our loved ones. Why are we making gifts for each other two, three, four weeks ahead of time, working as hard as we can to make something beautiful, to wrap it beautifully, to tie it beautifully, to think of something full of love to write on the card that goes with it? We do so because we know that Christmas is coming. That Jesus should become man and save us from our sins is more than a good reason to prepare — to anticipate. We want everything to be perfect for Jesus and for our loved ones for Christmas.

Just as we are doing now, God the Father prepared for the coming of Jesus. He prepared for His divine Son a perfect Mother through whom He could come into the world. God knew Blessed Mother before time. In her humanness she was to be like ourselves, but in another way she would be different. When God knew us in His mind before He made us, He knew that we would be conceived and born with original sin on our souls But when He knew Blessed Mother in His mind before He made her, He knew she would be conceived without original sin. He was going to make her to be the Mother of Our Lord; so He would make her perfect.

The moment of Mary’s creation in her mother’s womb, was God’s own Advent – the Father preparing the way for His son by preparing a perfect vessel, Mary, to bring His son into an imperfect world. God really is “preparing the way of the Lord.” Even though she would be one of the children of Adam and Eve, she would not inherit original sin like the rest of us, nor any weakness that might lead her to commit sin. Because she was perfect, when Gabriel came to her in Nazareth he said: "Hail, full of grace. . . ." That is why when Mary went to visit Elizabeth, Elizabeth cried out: "Blessed art thou amongst women. . . ."

And how did Mary herself prepare? What was her Advent? When Gabriel announced his incredible news, her reaction isn’t just meek submission. She questioned for a brief moment and challenged the angel. Only when her curiosity is satisfied did she give her assent. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary’s Advent was one of wonder – and extraordinary trust.

All of us in one way or another, at one time or another, feel the confusion and even fear that Mary must have felt… that phone call we didn’t want, the letter we never expected, the diagnosis no test could predict. Faced with fear, we challenge God and demand answers. But it all comes down to one phrase – the one that, I think, convinced Mary and that changed the course of history. “Nothing is impossible with God.”

St. Therese of Lisieux pondered about the mystery of God’s gift of Mary in her own life. She wrote,
The treasures of a mother belong to her child,
And I am your child, O my dearest Mother.
Aren’t your virtues and your love mine too ?
So when the white Host comes into my heart,
Jesus, your Sweet Lamb, thinks he is resting in you !…

While waiting for Heaven, O my dear Mother,
I want to live with you, to follow you each day.
Mother, contemplating you, I joyfully immerse myself,
Discovering in your heart abysses of love.
Your motherly gaze banishes all my fears.
It teaches me to cry, it teaches me to rejoice.
Instead of scorning pure and simple joys,
You want to share in them, you deign to bless them.

Here in Advent, we gaze out at the darkening skies. We are almost at the moment when our hemisphere is farthest from the sun, but along comes this day when we honor Blessed Mother. We may experience moments in our lives when we wonder and doubt about what’s going on in our lives. Blessed Mother, in her simple perfection, offers us something more than purity, more than saintliness. In our own confused time, Blessed Mother offers us clarity – the clarity of an angel’s assurance to a worried young girl. It is an assurance to our own worried world-- Nothing is impossible with God. This Advent, may all of us hold onto that – and as Christmas nears, may all of us truly see the light.