December 8th, 2010 - The Immaculate Conception of Mary, Mother of God

How beautiful is the Gospel today!  From this one reading we learn so much about our Mother.  First we learn that she is greater than the angels.  To whom else did an angel, a messenger of God, come and say "Hail, full of grace"?  With these words Gabriel acknowledges that he is speaking to someone greater than himself.  We also learn by those words that she is free from all sin, for what is sin but a denial of grace and how could someone who ever denied grace be full of grace.  Sin is an emptiness, but Mary was full.

From this Gospel we also learn that Mary is betrothed to Joseph, but also vowed to a lifelong virginity.  How else could she say "I have no relations with man" and not "I have not had relations with a man"? What woman, even though a virgin, would be unable to figure out the meaning of the angel's words?  No woman before was promised a child without expecting to conceive that child in the normal way.  Mary is betrothed to Joseph.  Without a prior commitment to virginity, any reasonable girl would expect to conceive the child during her imminent marriage.

From this Gospel we learn that Mary is the Mother of God.  Gabriel calls her child the Son of God.  The son of a dog is a dog.  The son of a human is a human.  The Son of God is God.  If he were not, the title would be contradictory.  We can be adopted sons and daughters of God, but the Son of God, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, can only be God, and the Mother of the Son of God must be therefore the Mother of God.

From this Gospel we learn that Mary is courageous.  St. Joseph was terrified at the prospect of having a role in raising the Son of God, so much so that he was going to divorce Mary quietly.  Mary, however, asks only for the practical details before submitting to the will of God.

From this Gospel we learn that Mary is humble.  She, though courageous, is afraid.  What frightens her who was not afraid either of the judgement of others or the terrible responsibility of being the Mother of God?  She is frightened by a greeting.  She is frightened to see an archangel bow before her.  We sinners would rejoice to see an angel bow to serve us, and it would be Satan dressed as an angel of light to inflate our pride.  Mary, who is destined to be Queen of Heaven, is too humble to understand the greeting.

From this Gospel we ought to learn to love Mary with a tiny portion of the great love by which God preserved her free from all sin from the moment of her creation.  From this Gospel we ought to learn to love God with a tiny portion of the fearless, God-fearing love by which Mary said "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."