Monday, 12/9/2019, The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Because today’s feast falls on Sunday, it is celebrated today.
The New Eve
First Reading Commentary: Genesis 3:9-15, 20
When God called Adam asking where he was, Adam answered that he was hiding because he was naked. So, God asked, “Who told you that you were naked?” And God said, “You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat.”
Who did Adam think that he was fooling? Did he not realize that God is all knowing? God knew where Adam was when He called for Adam and God knew what Adam had done before Adam answered. God already knew when it happened in the same way that God knows when we sin the instant that we make the decision to commit the sin. So, when God told Adam that he had eaten from the forbidden tree, Adam did not deny the sin. He realized that it was futile trying to fool God; or did he?
Adam blamed it on the woman who in turn blamed it on the serpent saying, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” Both Adam and Eve tried to fool God by placing the blame on someone else. We often see guilty people pointing the finger at someone else instead of taking ownership of their guilt. Little kids almost always do that and some of us never grow up.
Would God have been any less angry with Adam and Eve if they had taken ownership for their sin? No, but if they had confessed and repented, God would have shown His mercy. Instead, they were punished and all of mankind was stained with original sin.
God took His wrath out on the serpent first because if he had not tempted Adam and Eve, they would have never committed the sin. God has disdain for sin but even more so for those who are the cause of sin. Jesus gave us that message in Luke 17:1 by saying, "Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur."
God told the serpent that he would be banned from all the wild creatures, crawl on his belly and eat dirt for the rest of his life. In other words, the serpent was to be the scum of the earth. God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” This is another part of God’s wrath on the serpent, who we all know is Satan—the evil one. But this event is also good news for all of us. What God said to the devil is a demonstration of His love and infinite mercy for us.
The woman is Mary, and we know that her offspring is Jesus Christ, the Son. From the moment that Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the devil’s defeat and our salvation were both promised by God—the Father.
As we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary, we celebrate the first part of God’s plan being fulfilled. Today, we celebrate the conception of the woman who would bring the Father’s Son into the world. Her conception is Immaculate because Mary was blessed by God with the grace of being born without the stain of original sin. She had to be immaculate because of the Son who she would give birth to.
Adam called his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living. But sin begets death and therefore, once she sinned, Eve was no longer the mother of all the living. There had to be a new Eve who would be the mother of all the living. That Eve is the mother of the One who defeated death and made eternal life possible for all mankind. That is why for Catholics, one of Mary’s many titles is the New Eve.
During Advent, we await the coming of our newborn King and you might say that Advent began in the world the moment that the Father promised to send the New Eve and her Son. It is fitting that Mary’s Immaculate Conception be celebrated in Advent.
Our Salvation Was Planned Before We Were Even Created
Second Reading Commentary: Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
In Paul’s greeting to the Ephesians, he tells us that it was God’s plan before the foundation of the world that, in Christ, we be holy and without blemish. Paul says a lot in this greeting and there is more than one way to interpret what he says. The first thing that I see is a confirmation by Paul that God is all knowing. Paul is telling us that even before man was created, God knew that man would sin and that He would have to send the Son for our salvation.
Paul is also telling us that by being created to be holy and without blemish, we are created by God to be with God. Paul continues that message by telling us that it is God’s Will that we are destined for adoption by the Father through the Son.
Why does God have to adopt us when it is, He who created us? Sound peculiar? But the reason is because through sin, we separate ourselves from God and experience a spiritual death. The adoption that Paul is talking about is actually the salvation which is there for us because Christ took our sins to the cross and defeated death with His Resurrection.
Paul also tells us that it is God’s will that those who first, hoped for Christ, be chosen and destined to exist for the praise of God’s glory. We have to be chosen because of our sins and we present ourselves to be chosen by repenting for our sins. It is God’s Will that we do that because He would much rather have us with Him in His Kingdom than to see us perish in the abyss. Why—because He loves us.
Hail Full of Grace! The Lord Is with You
Gospel Commentary: Luke 1:26-38
Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled and wondered what sort of greeting this might be. What made Gabriel’s greeting troubling for Mary? It was her humility. Why would she, in her lowliness, be given such praise? This was her question and cause for concern.
So, Gabriel told Mary not to be afraid because she was in God’s favor. Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive and bear a son who would be named Jesus and be called Son of the Most High. This Son would be given the throne of David and rule over the house of Jacob and there would be no end to His Kingdom.
This is part two of God’s plan in today’s first reading from Genesis. It is the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Annunciation. But because Mary was a virgin, she was confused and wondered how this could be. So, she asked Gabriel how this could be.
Gabriel told Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that the power of the Most High would overshadow her and therefore the child would be called holy, the Son of God. Then Gabriel gave Mary a sign. He told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth, who was beyond child bearing years, was with child and in her sixth month. Gabriel then told Mary that nothing was impossible for God.
Mary’s becoming the mother of Jesus and her cousin Elizabeth being with child was news to Mary. God’s ability to do anything was not news to Mary because she was a woman of great faith. And so, she responded, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary made herself available to God’s Will and surrendered herself totally and completely to be used by God in whatever way that He so wished.
I consider this to be the greatest “yes” of all time. Even though, it was the Father’s plan from the beginning in Genesis 3:15, Mary had to say, “yes” or Christ would not have been born. Mary also had to open her heart to receiving the Holy Spirit.
You may ask, if it was God’s plan, why did Mary, have to say yes. Mary is unique because she was born without original sin but she is just like the rest of us because like us, she had a free will and could have said, “no.” But in her free will, she said, “yes.”
Did Mary know what she was getting herself into when she agreed to be the mother of Jesus? Did she know the pain that would come to her by watching her Son die on the Cross? More importantly, did she even stop to think about what would happen? Did Mary even care?
I believe that the answer is no to all of these questions, especially the last one. Mary did not have time to care because she had too much faith in God. She did not have a worry in the world. God asked, and because of her faith in God; she said, "yes."
There was another great yes before Mary’s. It came when Abraham agreed to sacrifice his son and Abraham was rewarded beyond measure by God. One of those rewards was Jesus being a descendant of Abraham. There was another great yes after Mary’s. It came when the Son said, "yes" to the Father and carried out the Father's Will by going to the cross.
That is three great yesses and there are three persons in the one God. You may think that God’s plan is complete. But I say, “No it is not.” There must be another yes which has to come from you and me. We have to say, "yes" in order to enter into the Kingdom. When we do that, the Father’s plan will be completed, one person at a time.
There is no better place to be and no better company to be with than with those who are in heaven. Do you say, “yes?” Or, I could consider the name Emmanuel and ask, God is with us but are we with God?