Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lectionary: 689

In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.

As the doctrines of the Church took shape within the heated controversies of our first centuries we realized the place of the Mother of Jesus. We cannot understand him if we ignore or minimize her, nor can we understand ourselves as Christians without her presence among us.

Simply put, we are not saved if Jesus is not human. If he were to appear as human, pretending to eat and drink and walk among us, but his appearance were only a vision to give us instruction, we could not be saved. 

Our salvation requires us to eat his flesh and drink his blood, but if he is only a phantom, with neither flesh nor blood, there is nothing to eat and we are not saved.

To be human is to have a mother and Mary is his mother; we know her as the Mother of God. And so we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the Season of Advent.

To honor Mary we have to put aside the urge to idealize her. "Ideals" is a Greek notion; the language served to announce the Gospel but ideals, by definition, are not real. To put it another way, Plato regarded ideals as the only reality, in contradistinction from every day life which is never ideal.

The Hebrew mind has no truck with ideals; it is a fantasy world without substance. Rather, the Hebrew finds wholeness in the ordinary human experience of blood, sweat and tears, of grime and dirt, of hard work, friendship, boredom, pleasure and grief.

We do not honor Mary by comparing ourselves to her. Rather we see her as our sister and mother; we admire her as one whom the Lord filled with grace and honored with the singular vocation of Immaculate Conception. 

Setting aside that temptation to idealize her, we discover in our own hearts the grace which has...
...destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.