December 8, 2016

Mary's Immaculate Conception

December 8, 2016:  Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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    Pope Francis Angelus
    Today's readings are crucial passages in the history of the relationship between man and God, leading us to the origins of good and evil.  The 1st reading shows us the origins of sin, the first 'no' to God, when man preferred to look at himself, not his Creator, and in doing so came out of communion with God.  But the Lord didn't leave Adam at the mercy of his evil; he sought him out and asked, "Where are you?"  It's the question of a parent searching for a lost child; God asked with patience, to bridge the distance that arose.
    In the gospel, God comes to dwell among us, becoming human like us, made possible by a great "yes," Mary's, through which Jesus began his way along the road of humanity, starting in his mother’s womb.  Mary is described as “full of grace,” meaning there's no room for sin, no shadow of evil.  Her "yes" is complete, unconditional, unreserved.
    For each of us there's a story of salvation made of yes and no to God, but sometimes we're experts on the half-yes: we pretend not to understand what God wants and what our conscience urges.  Smart, we don't say no, just "I can't," or "Tomorrow," closing the door to good; then evil takes advantage of the opportunity.  Every full yes to God gives rise to a new story of salvation; it's truly ‘original,’ not sin, which makes you old inside.  God desires to see us and awaits our 'yes.'
    Read
    • Gn 3:9-15, 20  Adam/God:  “I was naked so hid myself.” / “You ate the forbidden fruit!” / “The woman you put with me gave it to me.” God / Eve:  “Why?” / “The serpent tricked me.”  “Serpent, I'll make you and the woman enemies...”  Eve became mother of all the living.
      Annunciation/ Tanner
      More and more Annunciation art
      for today's gospel
    • Ps 98:1-4  "Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds."  All have seen the Lord's salvation, justice, kindness, and faithfulness; sing joyfully!
    • Eph 1:3-6, 11-12  Praise God who blessed us, loved us, chose us before the world was founded to be holy, to be adopted, to praise his glory.
    • Lk 1:26-38  Gabriel/Mary:  “Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with you.  Don't be afraid; you'll bear a son and name him Jesus.  He'll be King, Son of the Most High.”  “How?”  “The Holy Spirit and God's power...  The child will be the Son of God...  Your 'barren' cousin also conceived; nothing's impossible.”  “I'm the Lord's handmaid.  May it be done.”
    Reflect

      • Creighton:  "The Blessed Virgin Mary's immaculate conception, patronal feast of the USA":  A little history of this dogma and liturgical Feast Day in the Christian tradition might be in order.  Mary, mother of Jesus, was conceived without the presence or effects of sin.  The first woman, Eve, tasted sin; the second didn't.  In today's gospel, Mary is greeted as “full of grace.”  Mary didn't choose how she'd be conceived, be born, be enrolled in the census, or give birth, but she did say yes to the mystery of her life through obedience, listening, and accepting God's invitation....
      • One Bread, One Body:  "The conception of his incarnation":  About five billion today don't believe Jesus is God; Arianism has been common for centuries, but Jesus' conception without sexual relations implies he was God.  Others don't believe he's human, thinking God only seemed to be born, crucified, and put to death:  Docetism.  That Mary was conceived without sin helps us realize she gave her human nature to Jesus.  Because Jesus is human, human nature has been transformed, we can relate to him person-to-person, and we're saved....
        Immaculate Conception
        Murillo

        (More art)
      • Passionist:  Today we remember that Mary was free from original sin from her very conception.  We refer to today's gospel as Mary’s “yes,” but before she said yes, she expressed hesitation or astonishment.  She asked "How can this be?" because she was aware of what the angel was saying and what she was being asked.  She must have thought about what it would mean to her to be pregnant, what could happen to her and her family if Joseph rejected her.  She could have been stoned, and her family would have suffered.  They would have found it hard to believe there was no human father; and her pregnancy would dishonor them.  She knew she was being asked to change all her plans, to become someone new, and still said yes, then and throughout Jesus' life:  when Simeon predicted her sorrows, when Jesus was lost, when she saw him crucified, when she held his body....  God honored Mary, filling her with holiness; she him by always saying yes.  Do we accept God's will no matter what?  Do we live according to God’s word?
      • DailyScripture.net:  "With God nothing will be impossible":  The angel greets Mary as "full of grace."  God enriched Mary with gifts to enable her to assume her role.  Faith and obedience unlock God's power and grace in our lives.  When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were separation from the God who loved them, but God promised a Redeemer.  Mary's "yes" to God's invitation is a model of faith for us; she believed God's promises even when they seemed impossible.  She was eager to do God's will, even if it seemed difficult.  God gives us the grace to say "yes" to his will and work in our lives and expects us to respond like Mary with willingness, obedience, and trust. We can yield to his grace or resist....
      • Universalis:  Immaculate Conception = Mary was conceived without original sin, that twist in human nature that makes our will tend not to follow what it knows to be right.  It enabled Mary to say yes to God's request through Gabriel that she consent to be mother of God in the flesh.  Muslims believe it too, though differently.
      Dress legend
      • 'Tree' pin:  The man ate from the tree (1st reading)
      • 'Plant' pin:  Garden of Eden (1st reading)
      • 'Apple' pin:  Forbidden fruit (1st reading)
      • 'Question mark' tie pin:  God asked, “Where are you?” “Who told you you were naked?” “Why'd you do it?”... (1st reading)
      • 'Serpent' tie pin: "...The serpent tricked me" (1st reading)
      • 'Earth'tie:  All the earth has seen God's salvation (psalm)
      • 'Hand' tie pin:  God's hand won victory (psalm)
      • 'Treble clef' pin:  Sing joyfully to the Lord (psalm)
      • 'Angel' and 'Mary' pins:  God sent Gabriel to Mary (gospel)
      • 'Dove' pin:  "The Holy Spirit will come upon you" (gospel)
      • 'Crown' tie bar:  Jesus' kingdom will have no end (gospel)
      • 'Star' tie pin:  Mary as woman with crown of 12 stars (cf. Rev 12:1) (feast)
      • Blue and white shirt and cuff links:  Blue for the Blessed Mother, white for the day
      Special greetings to and prayers for the communities at
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