Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

1st Reading: Genesis 3:9-15, 20

 Responsorial Psalm: Psalm: 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4

2nd Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12

Gospel: Luke: 1:26-38

Because this feast day is so close to Christmas, most people (and some Catholics for that matter) believe it refers to the conception of Jesus Christ (in Mary’s womb) but it does not.  It doesn’t help that the gospel reading for today’s feast day (and Holy Day of Obligation in the US) refers to the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  The gospel reading on this day only adds to the confusion. 

The Immaculate Conception is the moment when Mary was conceived (by her parents Anne and Joaquim).  We believe that her conception was immaculate (without sin) so she would be prepared for Jesus.  The math is simple: Immaculate Conception of Mary is celebrated on December 8 and Mary’s birthday is September 8th (nine months later).  The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was conceived and Jesus was incarnated.

Mary is the Patroness of the Americas.  There are countless images of Mary found in every church.  Mary was full of grace (full, so there was no room for anything else, including sin).  God prepared her to be the mother of God and the mother of the Church.  In an alternative opening prayer for today’s Mass, it reads: “Father, the image of the Virgin is found in the Church.”  This statement is both literal and figurative. 

Mary would seem an unlikely choice for such an enormous responsibility.  She was young and poor and yet chosen for an important act of obedience.  She even asks the angel, “How can this be?”  How often do we second guess God’s choice when He is calling us to obedience.  We think we are unlikely (and unsuitable) candidates for God’s work but we need to learn to trust in God’s choice.  We can ask ourselves “Do I have Mary’s courage to cooperate with God?”  Keep in mind that he has prepared you for your task, just as he prepared this young girl.

During this season of Advent, we remember Mary and her cooperation with God in creation.  The creation of Jesus Christ.  She is the ultimate example of how to wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus.  When our blessings lead to sorrow, we can think of Mary.  She was blessed among women, but she started as just a nice, Jewish girl that said yes. 

Questions:

1.  When things work out for your benefit to whom do you give the glory?

2.  In what ways do your actions show that you have been chosen by God?

3.  What specific plan does God have for your life?

4.  Have you responded as Mary did, “May it be done to me according to your word.”?

There is no handout for this week as the Catechumenate Session would have been on break for the upcoming Christmas holiday.