This great solemnity venerates Mary under the title of her Immaculate Conception. It is also the patronal feast day of the United States of America.
Reflections on the readings for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8, 2022): GN 3:9-15,20; PS 98:1,2-3,3-4; EPH 1:3-6,11-12; LK 1:26-38
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Today’s Gospel reminds us about the singular role Mary has played in the history of salvation. The Angel Gabriel told her not to be afraid; and that she was called to become the mother of the Savior of the world.
The Catholic Church has venerated the Blessed Virgin Mary with lovely and meaningful holy days from the early centuries of Christianity. A universal feast honoring her under the title of her Immaculate Conception was made a holy day of obligation in the early 18th century. However, it was not until the following century that the belief that Mary had been preserved from the stain of sin from the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb became officially accepted. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “To become the mother of the Savior, Mary ‘was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role’ (Lumen Gentium). The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace” (Luke 1:58). In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, ‘full of grace” through God was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses.” Several years before that Church pronouncement in 1854, the bishops of the United States of America had unanimously chosen to honor the Blessed Virgin as patron under the title of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
Today’s Gospel reminds us about the singular role Mary has played in the history of salvation. The Angel Gabriel told her not to be afraid; and that she was called to become the mother of the Savior of the world. She responded by trusting God and embracing His will. “‘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. … Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word’” (Luke 1:35,38). At our baptism, our souls were stripped of the original sin with which we, like all children, had been conceived. Now let us emulate our dear Mother Mary by striving to discern and obey the will of God in all things. She is always eager to help us to grow in loving devotion to her Son, if we but ask her.