Solemnity of Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
A Homily - Cycle A - 2013-2014
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Responsorial Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
Second Reading Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Gospel Luke 1:26-38
Written by Luke to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Hail Mary, Full of Grace. Actually that’s not quite right – we just heard the angel declare with great joy to our Blessed Mother, “Hail, full of Grace!” The angel didn’t even bother greeting Mary by her first name. Instead, he used a beautifully different sort of title, one which revealed so much in a few words. Everything God created in this universe, reflects His beautiful and wondrous power, just as He wanted it and planned it . . . EXCEPT for us. We are his beautiful creations as well, His beloved children, but, with our blessed free will, we don’t always get it quite right. At least, we’re still trying to get it right. But there’s one who got it right from the very beginning, one who perfectly reflected God’s plan for her from the very beginning, one who never fell into sin, one who was preserved from Original Sin . . . and so the Angel proclaims, HAIL, FULL of GRACE! Hail, you who have been FILLED with God’s grace from the very beginning! Hail to you, beloved one of God, who was conceived immaculate in your mother’s womb.
How amazing a gift Mary received since the very moment of her conception, being free of the stain of sin. And so the angel’s greeting to her reveals something that is very unique to her, it reveals her IDENTITY in a very personal and intimate way, it shows something that was intimately given to her by God. And why? Perhaps so she could be Jesus’ mother! As Fulton Sheen said, “If God had the opportunity to make His own mother (And He did!), He would definitely make her PERFECT! He could, He should, and by golly, He did! And so the angel’s greeting to our Blessed Mother, in anticipation of the AMAZING news that he’s about to give her, the angel’s greeting should provide her with a measure of comfort. She’s about to become God’s mother, but don’t be afraid, Mary – you are the Immaculate Conception. Our generous Lord has given you EVERYTHING you need to take care of His Son. Guaranteed, dear Lady, you will do a VERY good job!
If only WE could do just as good a job . . . Mary’s Immaculate Conception might seem so alien to us . . . sure, SHE’S perfect, but how about the rest of us sinners! God has given her everything SHE needed, but what . . . about . . . us? We haven’t always done a great job at living up to the beautiful blueprint that the Lord has designed for us . . . however, I think we should rejoice today, for our Blessed Lady reminds us, in her attitude of quiet receptivity and openness to the Lord, she reminds us to make the time to slow down in this busy month, this busy life of ours, and LISTEN to the Lord, who also calls out to us, not just by our first name, but with another title . . . a title which perhaps has never been put into words before, perhaps we’ve never made the time to listen for . . . sure, He calls each of us, “My son, my daughter,” but look at Mary – God looks at her and calls her “My daughter, my mother, whom I have made the Immaculate Conception!” So God looks at each person here with love beyond telling, and calls each of us, “My son, whom I have given . . . . “ “My daughter, whom I have blessed with . . . .” Titles which are totally unique and personal to each of us, which reveal how MUCH God has given, to each one of us!]
The beautiful truth is, even if we haven’t done a great job, God never takes back His gifts. I just pray that we make the moment to realize that, just like our Beautiful Lady, God has given us EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED to become the unrepeatable and beautiful saints we were created to be. Thank you, dear Lady, for being the Immaculate Conception, for you remind us that we are also unique creations of a loving Father, who calls us by name, and shows us how beautiful WE CAN become as well. Hail Mary, full of grace, pray for us, your sons and daughters, who are being FILLED with more grace than we could possible imagine. Amen.