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Autor: Sacerdos Homilies | Fuente: Sacerdos: Resources for Priests
Immaculate Conception
December 8th, 2006 First Reading: Genesis 3:9-15,20 Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12 Psalm: 98 Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

First Reading: Genesis 3:9-15,20
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12
Psalm: 98
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

Theme of the Readings
The angel greets Mary with the title “Full of grace.” It is the name that God, through his messenger, chose to describe her. This is how he had always seen and thought of her from all eternity (Gospel).

In the hymn of the Letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle praises God the Father “who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” God addressed a special blessing to Mary from the beginning of time: She was truly blessed among women. The Father chose her in Christ before the creation of the world, so that she might be holy and immaculate before him in love, preordaining her as the first fruits of filial adoption through the work of Jesus Christ (second reading).
The predestination of Mary, like that of each one of us, is linked to the predestination of the Son. Christ is that “seed” that was “to bruise the head” of the ancient serpent, according to the Book of Genesis; he is the Lamb “without blemish," immolated to redeem humanity from sin (first reading, psalm).

The Virgin´s “yes” to the announcement of the angel fits into the reality of our earthly condition, with humble respect for the divine will to save humanity not from history, but rather in history. Preserved free from all taint of original sin, the “new Eve” benefited uniquely from the work of Christ as the most perfect Mediator and Redeemer. The first to be redeemed by her son, she shares to the full in his holiness; she is already what the entire Church desires and hopes to be.

Doctrinal Message
The Immaculate Conception shows that when God calls someone to carry out a particular mission on his behalf, he provides that person with the gifts needed for it. “In order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God´s grace” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 490). As our provident Father, God asks us only for what we can do and give, and he makes certain that we have the resources to respond as he asks. This should serve as a source of confidence for us in the living of our own vocation and mission, each according to their state of life and circumstances.

The words of the angel speak of Mary’s identity before God and teach us something important about our own identity before him. In the thought of the ancient world, and especially in Scripture, to name someone was to grasp or “understand” his or her true identity. In a sense, it was to have dominion over that person. Here Gabriel does not refer to Mary with her given name, but instead by the title “full of grace.” God’s name for Mary is “full of grace”; this is her deepest and most true identity, which corresponds perfectly with the mission for which she has been created: to become the mother of the Savior. This helps us see that, for God, our identity, vocation and mission are a single reality. He does not make us as one thing (identity) and then call us to another (vocation) as an afterthought or add-on. Our own personal fulfillment is closely connected to the faithful fulfillment of our vocation and mission.
The Immaculate Conception speaks not only of the extraordinary gifts given to Mary by God at the moment of her creation so that she could fulfill her unique vocation; it is also a testimony to her unbroken faithfulness to those gifts throughout her earthly life. By the grace of God, Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life. Yet God’s grace, extraordinary in her case, did not mitigate her freedom in choosing to cooperate with God’s plan, from the beginning until the end. Mary “co-operated through free faith and obedience in human salvation.” She uttered her yes “in the name of all human nature.” By her obedience she became the new Eve, mother of the living” (CCC, 511).

Pastoral Applications
In contemplating Mary, we should be impressed by her faith. Not everything was clear and precise for her; she, like each one of us, had to walk in the light and darkness of faith, and her faith was put to the test many times. Her life as portrayed by the gospels is eminently realistic, so we have so much to learn from her.

By meditating and suffering, Mary grew in her understanding of the mystery of Christ. The suffering pushed her deeper into prayer, and through prayer she was able to make sense of God’s plan. Her faith in God and in his plan was her strength and her security until the end of her life; it was the solid ground of her daily life.

It wasn’t easy for Mary to live this attitude of faith, especially when, shortly after the birth of her son, she heard the prophetic words that a sword would pierce her heart. That is exactly what happened. God’s plan for her meant suffering, self-denial, humiliation and obedience, even to the culminating moment of the cross. Yet Mary’s life, desire and peace were what God was revealing to her as the fruit of her “yes” at the moment of the Annunciation.

The crown jewel of Mary’s spiritual life was the heroic and considerate way in which she lived the virtue of charity: in the Annunciation, in the Visitation, at Cana and in so many other moments of her life. Through them we see a woman with a heart that is kind, simple, understanding and full of goodness.

How much we need to imitate Mary’s heart. Why? Because it is difficult for us to “forgive and forget” when we have been offended. It is difficult for us to serve and to give of ourselves. It is difficult for us to accept each other as we are, rather than reshaping everyone according to our own ideals. It is difficult for us not to be hardened by the trials of daily life that often test our patience or make us hyper-sensitive, irritable and impatient.

We need to pray that Mary intercede for us and protect us from the bane of speaking evil of each other, from being brusque in the way we treat each other, from our moments of hyper-sensitivity. We need to pray that Mary gain for us the grace to fill the Church with a family spirit, where service, joy, mutual esteem, understanding and goodness of heart are present. Where there is charity, God is present. May Mary teach us to bury our selfishness and help us to put on the love for Christ, who dwells mysteriously in each of us.


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El lugar de encuentro de los católicos en la red