Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Luke 1:26-38

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Barbara Barry

Published: December 08, 2014

It is the season of Advent and Mary is certainly a key figure in the events of the season. So much has been written about Mary through the centuries – what is left to be said? This year, as we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I invite you to think differently and to focus on Anne and Joachim this time. After all, it is actually their act of love, their embrace of one another in love this night, that brought Mary to birth. We do not know much about them or their family life but, let us imagine a faithful Jewish couple who worshipped at the local synagogue regularly and did their best to raise their children to believe in Yahweh and to await the coming of the Savior.

Perhaps the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures were discussed in their home. And the Jewish festivals were a focal point of their family gatherings, and the weekly Seder celebrated with intensity. Perhaps Mary’s parents taught her to be attentive to the signs of her times and to imagine a better life when the Savior would appear. In other words, Anne and Joachim nurtured a contemplative spirit in Mary’s heart. They brought up their daughter to hear God’s voice in whatever way it manifested itself.

And so Mary was ready, ready to hear the message of an angel, ready to run with child and husband to a safer town, ready to let her Son leave home and preach a new law of love, ready to watch him be killed, ready to experience the resurrection and ready to wait with the apostles and believers to see him again and live the new life of the Reign of God.

St. Paul reminds us in today’s second reading from the letter to the Ephesians, “Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence.” We are all called to live the kind of life that Mary lived – holy and spotless, living in God’s presence.

During your day today, think of the people who are the Anne and Joachim figures in your own life. Thank God for them, especially in this Advent season. And then think about yourself as an Anne or Joachim figure. Who have you mentored along the way? Who have you helped to hear the Word of God?

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