Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Luke 1:26-38

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Theresa Rynn

Published: December 08, 2017


 Our first Reading from Ephesians sets the scene for our feast today.

“Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.

Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ”

 Mary, the chosen one! but Mary one of us!

I often wonder how close we come to reality in our picture of Mary. Across the years, we have created an image of someone, sometimes quite removed from our own experience of child, woman and mother. Today’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception perhaps adds strength to this concept and truly sets her apart. This is so, but this is not the whole story. We do believe that, unlike all other human beings, Mary was conceived, totally filled with the grace of God, totally free from any tendency towards sin. But surely her experience of life in every other way was moulded and fashioned just like any other human being. She developed as any child, young woman in the circle of a loving family. Hard for us to believe the normality of it all, but captured in the words of the poet, reflecting on this young Jewish girl.

“We scarce remember

Now that once this name was spoken softly

In a time before the Aves rang.

Perhaps across some threshold it was said

So casually, by one who called to her,

“Mary.” And no one knew

that more was said than just a young girl’s name.” (J. Lynch)

Amongst her family and friends, she was just Mary, ‘Mary of Nazareth’ with no obvious sign of the ‘extraordinary’ hidden beneath the ‘ordinary’ Life for her was similar to that of many others in her village. She was at home amid the familiar lanes, familiar sounds and sights of village life, familiar folk and easy conversations. Her fears, anxieties, her great joys, and sorrows, were shared with those closest to her. We really don’t know how her unique reality affected her life, a reality certainly not defined in the way we define it today. If Mary was truly one of us it would seem she didn’t totally recognise what it meant. But for all the ‘unknowing’ there must surely have been some deep unexplained recognition of the wonder deep within. This fullness of grace, which didn’t detract from life’s varied experiences, must have grounded her in that deep union with God creating total harmony. Her peace, her silent depths would if anything make her more human in the eyes of those around her, being whatever she needed to be for herself and others. She laughed with those who laughed, she cried with those who cried.

What then of the time when the ‘gift’ was to come to full fruition? Today’s Gospel unfolds the meaning of the gift -- to prepare her for that moment when she would be asked to become the mother of God. “You are to conceive and bear a Son and you must name him Jesus. The child will be holy and will be called Son of God.” Her very human response her initial response endears her to us – a pause – a ‘how ?’ question. And then her ‘fiat’ her gift to the ‘giver of all gifts.’ “Be it done to me according to your word.” It was fitting that Jesus, totally at one with his Father was to be born of a woman, totally at one with that same Father.

Appropriately, we celebrate this feast of the Immaculate Conception in the days leading up to Christmas. Once again, we enter into the mystery of God becoming one of us. From the fullness of her humanity Mary is to give birth to God made man. The purpose for which she was created has begun.

 As then, so now, Mary waits to give Jesus to a waiting world, and in her heart ‘Magnificat !’ 

 A thought for reflection

 "In my own unique way, I too, am called to bring Jesus to a waiting world.

As I enter into the mystery, the wordless experience of this feast how does the silence speak to my purpose in life today?"

 

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