B Cycle – Feast of Immaculate Conception 17

                                                                 Eph. 1:3-6, 11-12

Just to make sure we are all on the same page please understand this feast is about the conception of Mary by her mother Ann not the conception of Jesus by Mary.

Catholic doctrine is explicit Mary was conceived without original sin. This doctrine tells us that Mary was prepared in advance to be a perfect unstained vessel for Jesus.  This doctrine tells us that Mary was equipped and prepared for her role in the plan of salvation.  It would be easy for us today to focus on Mary and her life and her absolute faith and trust in God to do something not only impossible but for her to also trust that God would protect her from stoning or rejection.

As a model for us to emulate we haven’t a chance to even consider ourselves in the same universe so we hold her separate and highly honor and esteem her.  At the same time we must keep in mind that this plan of God to send us a savior to be born of a virgin was all about us and restoring our glory as sons and daughters. I certainly do not want to diminish or minimize the importance of Mary in God’s plan because her yes made it possible for us to have that same Holy Spirit do something remarkable in us.

That Spirit was to overshadow Mary not only bring about a miracle of conception but it allowed her to understand God’s immense love for us.  She from that moment when the angel Gabriel spoke to her understood God’s immense desire for us to be in an intimate relationship with him just as she was intimate with him. That same Spirit allowed her and us stand against all the forces of evil that would seek to destroy the birth of Christ in our hearts.

The scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit will pour God’s love into our hearts.  Just imagine what Mary felt on that day when the Spirit overshadowed her.  God desires us to feel that same love and experience the Spirit equipping us for our mission to bring Christ alive first in our lives and then to those around us and then to strangers.

Paul speaking to the Christians in Ephesus is affirming this plan of God for you and I when he said: In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory.”  This is not just some random thought by Paul but it is God making sure we understand we like Mary were chosen and destined to let everyone know as Mary did that “our souls magnify the Lord and we rejoice in God our savior.”  By our visible and vocal display of our belief and trust in God we like Mary will bring Christ to the world.

Don’t you think it brings joy to Mary’s heart to hear us use the same words as she did as she said yes?  Mary’s yes made it possible for us to stand before our God mindful that “he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.”  All this means is that God is not commanding us to be holy but God has given us the Holy Spirit to transform what is un-holy in us to holiness. We are given all we need to be holy but we do need to do say yes as Mary said yes.

So let us not forget the lesson of how God responds to our yes for like Mary he will make our hearts sing and our faith in his ability to do great things in us will allow us to be as effective in following his will as Mary was.   


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