The immaculate Conception of Mary | Tuesday 8 December 2020
Today is Tuesday the 8 December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, in the 2nd week of Advent.
The Gaudete Ensemble conducted by Eamon Dougan sing 'Ave Generosa' by Margaret Rizza: 'Hail, high-born, glorious, inviolate Maid!'
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘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 holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.
Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. Mary always, utterly, belonged to God. She was always full of grace. How do I recognise my belief in this doctrine? What is my understanding of this young woman who will become the Mother of God?
One way of praying is to try to experience a piece of scripture through the senses. We meet God in the freeing spirit of our own imagination. This reading from Luke is so evocative that it has been recreated in art hundreds of times.
Where would I place Mary?…. What is she wearing….? …..Is she in a comfortable corner, praying over the scriptures, asking God to be with her as she anticipates her forthcoming marriage……. Is she prepared for the request that the angel will ask of her? Am I prepared, in my everyday life, to encounter the divine?
How does Gabriel come to Mary? As a clearly, supernatural being, shining with heavenly light and eagles wings? …….By simply appearing, as if from nowhere? As an encounter with a stranger with an even stranger request? ……..How do I recognise the divine encounters in my life?……. Do I have expectations of what is holy?
‘Hail, favoured one’. As Gabriel assures Mary of God’s regard for her, can you experience her response? Can I imagine that same look of regard for me? To be filled with the grace that comes from the Lord.
‘Nothing is impossible to God’. Can I imagine then, as Mary does, the experience of knowing God's Love with such certainty? So intimately that a spark of Life is created deep in the shadows, in the life-giving sacred space within me?