The Second Tuesday of Advent
GN 3:9-15, 20
PS 98:1, 2-3 AB, 3CD-4
EPH 1:3-6, 11-12
The Gospel reading for today’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception speaks of the Annunciation, the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary at the conception of Jesus. Although it would seem that the Immaculate Conception refers to Jesus’ conception, it actually is a feast in honor of the conception of Mary. It is a celebration of the belief that she was conceived without the stain of original sin. The angel Gabriel confirms that her nature is, “full of grace”. The original Greek word used is kecharitomene and means: “has been and continues to be filled with the grace of God.” (CCC 490-493, 722, 2676)
The Gospel for today (Luke 1: 26-38) is wonderful for reflection. Each line holds truths worth pondering. Catholic teaching states that Mary was pure from the moment of her conception, pure in mind, body and spirit. Her soul is so immaculate, that God could join the fruit of her womb and become flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone. The fruit of her womb, Christ, is fully human and fully divine, sharing both natures. Imagine that, the creator of the universe, enfleshed (incarnate) as a response to his pure love for humanity.
When I place myself in the scene of the gospel I can picture the young Mary taking an afternoon rest from her chores. A whispering rustle, followed by a warm enveloping light entered the room as the angel appeared to the young woman. I can feel her startled response to this visitor and his words, as she pondered what they could mean: “Full of grace, the Lord is with you… conceive… bear a son… Son of the Most High…” Her question, “How could this be?” And the angel’s calming reassurance, “do not be afraid… the Holy Spirit will come upon you… the Most High will overshadow you… for with God nothing will be impossible.” I listen to her response, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” The angel departed from her leaving her, and me, in wonder.
Mission and Identity