Tuesday, December 8, 2015 ~ Second Week in the Season of Advent
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Patronal Feast Day of the United States of America
~ A Holy Day of Obligation ~
Holy Gospel: Luke 1: 26-38 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 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, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “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 called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Meditation: The angel Gabriel salutes Mary as “full of grace.” To become the mother of the Savior, Mary was enriched by God with gifts to enable her to assume this awesome role. There is a venerable tradition among many Christians, dating back to the early church, for honoring Mary as the spotless virgin who bore the Son of God in her womb. A number of early church fathers link Mary’s obedience to this singular grace of God, including Saint Irenaeus who said: “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race… The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.”
Prayer: O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son, grant, we pray, that, as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands us he also gives us the grace, strength, and means to respond to him. And so we might ask ourselves, when God commands us to do something, or when his son, Jesus Christ, teaches us to do something, do we respond with love, willingness, faith and obedience as Mary did? Or do we push back in way or another, on one level or another, because we think we know better, or think that “I have a better way.” Really? A better way than God or Jesus? If we really love God above all things, then our faith and our obedience to God and to Jesus Christ will prove this to be the case day-in and day-out, in every situation, before all people. Is this true for you? If the ways of the world have slowly crept into your life that, upon an introspective examination, you now see that the ways of the world have taken over your life, this Season of Advent is the perfect time to undergo a radical transformation of mind and heart so that, like Mary, you can say “May it be done to me according to your word” – according to God’s word and according to Jesus’ word, where we fine true joy, peace and happiness.