December 8, 2015

Immaculate Conception

December 8, 2015:  Mary's Immaculate Conception

Holy Door of Mercy at the
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
Thanks, Msgr. Kevin and David!

    Pope Francis Immaculate Conception + Jubilee homily
    I'll open the Holy Door of Mercy with joy in the light of today's word of God highlighting the primacy of grace.  Mary was called to rejoice because of what the Lord accomplished in her.  God’s grace made her worthy of becoming the Mother of Christ.  Grace can transform us and enable us to do great things.  God’s love is great!  Not only does he forgive sin, but in Mary he even averts original sin.  God's love precedes, anticipates and saves.  The sin in Eden yields to a plan of saving love.  We disregard God’s will, but we can only understand the history of sin in the light of God’s love and forgiveness.  Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy.  The Immaculate Virgin is a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfillment.
    This Holy Year is a gift of grace.  To pass through the Holy Door is to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes and encounters each person.  This year we'll grow more convinced of God’s mercy.  How much wrong we do God and his grace when we speak of sins punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy (De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, XII, 24)!  Put mercy before judgment, and, besides, God’s judgment will always be merciful.  May we feel part of this mystery of love, set fear aside, and experience the joy of encountering God's transforming grace.
    Remember also the door that the Vatican II Fathers opened 50 years ago, not just for the Council documents but also the encounter between the Church and people of our time, marked by the Spirit's power to advance her on her missionary journey, to resume encountering people where they live.  The Church is called to reach out to all and bring them gospel joy.  The Jubilee demands we not neglect the spirit of Vatican II, the spirit of the Samaritan.  May our passing through the Holy Door today commit us to making the Good Samaritan's mercy our own.
    • 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.”

      • Creighton:  Today we celebrate that Mary was immaculately conceived in the womb of her human mother, Anne, and through her biological father, Joachim, though today's gospel about Mary's obedience leading to Jesus' conception in her has led to confusion that this celebration is about Jesus' conception in Mary.
      Pope Francis in Misericordae Vultus declared today as the start of the Jubilee of Mercy.  Jesus healed, raised, comforted, and found people and restored their dignity; his “mercy-ministry” was often to have the people he healed be merciful toward themselves.
      The Hebrew for compassion is heshem; its root is rechem, womb.  Isaiah writes that even if a mother forgets the child of her womb, God won't forget us.  He says God comforts us as a mother her child.  Mary is clothed with a motherhood of mercy, comfort, and healing.  Her freedom from sin frees her to bear Jesus, the face of the Father's mercy.
      We pray, “Hail, holy queen, Mother of Mercy…. Turn thine eyes of mercy toward us….  O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.” “We are wound with mercy round and round as if with air....  She wild web wondrous robe, mantels the guilty globe….”  Hopkins, The Blessed Virgin Compared To The Air We Breathe).  Mary is the motherly face of the mercy Jesus is.  She's called the “Portal of Grace”; through the portal of her womb God took flesh.  May we be open and available to God as she was.  May we step through the “open door of Mercy” to receive that gift and to be doors of mercy ourselves.
        Immaculate Conception

        (More art)
      • One Bread, One Body:  "Mary changes the menu":  The serpent persuaded Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.  Mary is the new Eve; her obedience reverses the first Eve's disobedience.  Mary persuades us to eat of another tree's fruit, the flesh of her Son, in the Eucharist.  May we eat as Mary leads....
      • Passionist:  Why did Pope Francis begin the Year of Mercy today?  Today's feast and readings are filled with signs of God’s mercy.  Mary lives that mercy as she visits her cousin to help her prepare for her child's birth, as well as at the marriage feast at Cana....  Each of us needs God's forgiveness and mercy; it'll enable us to see and be transformed by God's love and help us reflect that love when we show mercy to others.  We entrust this year to Mary, Mother of Mercy...  How can I, like Mary, be a bearer of mercy, and, like Jesus, show mercy to all?  May God’s mercy touch us and through us, everyone we meet.  May God’s mercy transform us and, through us, the world.
      •  "For with God nothing will be impossible":  Gabriel greets Mary as "full of grace"; God gave Mary gifts so she could be the Savior's mother.  Mary's obedience is linked to this grace. "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" (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.XXII.4).  Faith and obedience unlock the power of God's kingdom in our lives.  God gives us grace and expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and trust as Mary did.
      • 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. See Catholic Encyclopedia and Wikipedia.
      Dress and 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 on tie:  All the earth has seen God's salvation (psalm)
      • 'Hand' tie pin:  God's hand won victory (psalm)
      • 'Angel' and 'Mary' (with Elizabeth) pins:  God sent Gabriel to Mary (gospel)
      • "Star" tie pin:  Mary as woman with crown of 12 stars (cf. Rev 12:1) (feast)
      • Shirt with blue and white:  blue for the Blessed Mother, white for the day

      Special greetings to and prayers for the communities at

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