Friday, December 08, 2006

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Blooming in the Gloom

Readings: Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38

Those who have ever marveled at the sight of a lotus blossom, rising pure, white, and untainted from murky waters will have a sense of the wondrous thing we celebrate today. From the dark and distressing background of Adam and Eve’s plight – their fear and shame at having disobeyed their creator and their desperate attempts at shielding their own nakedness – arises a divine promise of salvation: I will make you enemies of each other, says God to the serpent, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring

And we see that promise coming to fulfillment in the gospel. Here we catch a closer glimpse of this lotus flower who becomes the bearer of God’s salvation to the world. Like our first parents, Mary too is deeply disturbed by God’s visitation. But hers is not the fear born of sin and shame, but the discomfort of a humble heart unused to the reception of singular honours. That this is so can be seen from her willingness to receive the angel’s words of assurance – Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour – her readiness to ask difficult but crucial questions of God – but how can this come about – and ultimately, her obedience to God’s instruction – let what you have said be done to me.

As we meditate more deeply on this marvel who is the Immaculate Conception, might we not be led to emulate the psalmist and to sing a new song to the Lord for the wonders he has worked? And even as we do revel in the beauty of the lotus flower who is Mary, blooming amidst the ugliness of sin and shame, might we not also be granted the courage to gaze upon our own particular situations – our own world, our own families, our own parishes and communities, our own hearts – to acknowledge the darkness that is there, but also to recognize the presence of the One who has chosen us from the beginning… to be, for his greater glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ? Might we not also find ourselves called, just as Mary was, to bear Christ to a hungry and waiting world? For indeed, it is as we prayed in the opening prayer: the image of the Virgin is found in the Church. May our merciful God, for whom nothing is impossible, grant us abundant grace to respond generously to his call, to bloom even as Mary continues to bloom in our Church and in our world.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us….

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