Monday, December 8, 2014

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception: Daily Mass Homily--Monday, December 8th, 2014

(Listen to this homily here).

            A very blessed solemnity to you all.  Take a break from your Advent penance and sacrifices to party it up for our Lady!
            If you would ask the average Catholic who we are celebrating today, many would say Jesus.  Now you are the holy and faithful ones and would get it right, but we are celebrating Mary’s immaculate conception in the womb of her mother Anne.  We believe that at the very beginning of Mary’s existence, God prevented her from inheriting sin.
            This makes sense if you think about it.  We know Jesus was perfect—free from sin.  Yet something perfect cannot come from something imperfect.  Thus Jesus’ Mother must have been free from sin herself.
And how did this happen?
            Fast-forward about fifteen years.  When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, he announced that Mary would conceive and give birth to the Messiah.  And she wasn’t even married!  She inquired of the messenger, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”  The answer she received: “…nothing will be impossible for God.”  So too, Mary’s conception involved a miracle.
            Consider a metaphor to explain this miracle.  Now I love my younger brothers, but for the sake of this thought experiment imagine that I want to kill them.  I know they like Coca-Cola so I plan to put some poison in it to get them to drink it.  My first brother, Andrew, does so.  Dad notices what is going on and steps in: “Andrew, what’s wrong?  Did he poison you?!  Quick, drink this medicine.”  He does and the medicine cures him.  Dad catches on to my game and sees me offer my youngest brother Mychal a glass of the poisoned Coke; he yells, “Mike, don’t drink that, it’s poison!  Your brother has a few screws loose and is trying to kill you!” 
            Who did my Dad save?  Both…
            Every one of us has inherited original sin—like consuming a poisoned drink.  Jesus, through his death and resurrection, provides the antidote and provides salvation.  One young woman—Mary—never drank from the poisoned drink.  God prevented her from inheriting sin from the very beginning of her life.
            What is truly amazing is that Mary was sinless her entire life.  She was neither a robot nor a puppet.  She freely chose not to sin.  She consistently said, as she did in response to Gabriel’s message, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  She said this every moment—every second—her entire life.
            There are many interesting parallels between what happened in the Garden of Eden and the Annunciation.  In both cases a mysterious creature approaches a woman.  In the garden, the devil has a message for Eve, tempting her to eat the forbidden fruit.  She does so and the blame game begins.  God asks Adam why he ate of the fruit.  “Eve made me do it!” he replies.  God turns to Eve.  “The serpent made me do it!” 
            In the Gospel Gabriel comes to Mary and the buck stopped with her.  Like Eve, she could have deferred to someone else, arguing that there was a more fitting mother for the Messiah.  Instead, she gave her yes which changed the course of human history.
            What does this mean for us?  It is nothing short of miraculous.  One of our own—a young girl from Galilee who was of our own flesh and blood—remained sinless.  She, the new Eve, corrected the sin of our original mother.  This allowed her to bring in the new Adam, Jesus Christ, who saves us from sin.
            Like our Lady, may we continue to say yes to God’s will for our lives and reject sin.  Let us seek her intercession, especially as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the patroness of the United States of America.  May she guide for us and our country!
            Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us.

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