December 8, 2014 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Patronal Feastday of the United States of America

Lectionary: 689

Reading 1 GN 3:9-15, 20

The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary,  is the celebration of the union of the Holy Spirit with Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, from the moment that she was engendered.  This union of the Holy Spirit and Mary is the reason why she was begotten without sin.

We begin in the book of Genesis at the point when Adam has already fallen from grace because it is at this point that God announces the coming of a Woman, who will hate the Serpent so much, that she will never be under his control.  This is the ProtoEvangelium.  The first announcement of the coming of the Messiah, the Seed of the Woman, Who will crush the Serpent under their feet.

The Woman will crush the Serpent by virtue of her giving birth to the Saviour.  The Saviour will crush the Serpent by virtue of His obedience to God, His Father.

After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”

Adam, once a friend of God, now feared and hid from Him.

He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?

Having eaten of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam was now separated from God.  It is as though the umbilical cord had been cut and Adam was no longer united to God.

The Catechism says that Adam lost the grace of Original Justice in which he was conceived.  And now lived in a state of Original Sin, which placed him at odds with God who is all holy.

You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”

Dr. Scott Hahn alls this a pre-Judgment event.  In the Judgment, we will be told our sins and be judged by God.  Adam is standing before God and being judged.

The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”

Adam blames his wife for his sin.  Scripture says that it is Eve who was tricked by Satan.

The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

And the Woman, Eve, blames the Serpent.  The Serpent is the Devil, the Father of lies.

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.

God condemns the Serpent to crawl on its belly.

I don’t think this is an explanation of why snakes lost their legs.  I believe this is an analogy or parable which is somehow related to the events of Revelation 12:7 where the Dragon was exiled from heaven and condemned to roam the earth.

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.”

The is the Proto-Evangelium.  The first account of the Gospel predicting the coming of the Mother of God and her Son, the Saviour of the world.

Notice that there is “enmity” or “deep hatred”, between the Serpent and Mary.  From the moment of her coming into existence, Mary is united to God and an enemy of Satan.  Therefore, she is conceived without sin and remains without sin her entire life.

The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.

Eve became the mother of all mankind.  But Eve, here, represents Mary and the Church, because it is Mary who is the Mother of all who live in Christ. See Rev 12:17.

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4

R. (1) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

In Mary, God did something new that had never been seen.  A woman protects the man?  God made man, Ecce Homo, is put under the care of a mere woman.

R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

God has done great things for us through the Maid which He made the Mother of His Son.  And Holy is His Name.

R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.

Therefore, thank God, for the Maid who gave her fiat that the Lord, the Saviour, might be engendered in her immaculate womb.

Reading 2 EPH 1:3-6, 11-12

Brothers and sisters:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Holy is the name of our God!

who has blessed us in Christ

Who has given us His Son

with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,

And, in Baptism, has poured the grace of the Holy Spirit into our souls.

as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,

As He predestined us from time immemorial.

to be holy and without blemish before him.

that we might live righteously and be justified in His eyes.

In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,

Because of His love He elected us to be born again in Christ.

in accord with the favor of his will,

because He wanted to bless us

for the praise of the glory of his grace

by the gift of His life

that he granted us in the beloved.

that He gave us through His son.

In him we were also chosen,

In Christ we were elected

destined in accord with the purpose of the One

in line with the will of God

who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,

Who completes all which He sets out to do

so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,

So that we might give glory to His name.

we who first hoped in Christ.

We who turned to His Son believing and expecting to receive the promised salvation.

Alleluia SEE LK 1:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Most of us recognize these words as the prayer known as the Hail Mary.  But as you can see, they were first spoken to the Virgin Mary by the Angel Gabriel.  And they are inscribed in the Word of God. 

When you read these words, please recognize, that although they were spoken by the Angel, the Angel was also conveying the message which God sent him to deliver.  Therefore, it is not just the Angel praising Mary, but God through the Angel.

Gospel LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God

God sent the angel Gabriel

to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,

to Nazareth

to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.

to relay a message to the Virgin Mary

And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

And the message is one of praise

But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The word, “hail” is a greeting reserved for royalty.  So, the humble maid was confused why an angel from heaven would humble himself before her.

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.

But he comforted her and explained that she would be the Mother of God.

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.”

The Mother of the promised Saviour.

But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”

Mary was again confused.  She, obviously, at her age, knew about the birds and the bees.  And there is no record of any woman engendering a child without sexual relations.

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 the Angel explained that this child would not be engendered by natural means, but by supernatural means by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The terminology, “the Most High will overshadow you” is Hebraic euphemism which means that she will be the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.   This is what it means when a man overshadows or covers a woman.  This is how she would have understood it.

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.”

As proof, the Angel offers that her own aged relative will also bear a son, even though she has been barren these many years.

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”

But that mattered little.  Because Mary gave her wholehearted fiat to the Lord and did not question the Angel’s explanation.

Then the angel departed from her.

And the Angel went back to God who sent him.

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