READINGS for 2007-12-08
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
“Hail, Mary!” – Luke 1:27
How does it feel to be honored by a friend?
My tear glands may excrete and I try to say “thank you” but a jackstone ball clogs my throat and my voice cracks.
What about being honored by the President of the Republic? “Awwwww!” I say, grabbing hold of my chest as my heart pounds louder than the “Fat Boy” dropped at Nagasaki.
Now, what about having an angel sent by God to honor me . . .
Sorry, lost consciousness after the last statement.
The “honoring” by the angel would have been glorious to Mary enough if it just came from him. But it didn’t! It was from God! Yes!
God said the first “HAIL full of grace!” to Mary.
Why was she so blessed? Listen to the conversation.
Had Angel Gabriel been a Filipino, he could have jokingly asked after the announcement, “Bakit, Mary Klamo” (“Do you have problems with what I just said?”) If Mary was a Filipina, she could have said, beaming with loveliest smile, “Wala po,” (No problem) “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to Your word.” Jon E.
Why should you say “Hail Mary” if you are not Catholic? Because God did!
Mary, you showed us how being “Blessed” means. Bring us to the heart of your Son that we may live in Him and with Him. This is eternal “blessedness.”
The continuing saga of the original sin is very instructive for us. It demonstrates the absolute destructive quality of sin. This is first seen when Adam blames Eve for the sin, and it may even be argued that he is also blaming God because God was the one who created Eve! Eve blames the serpent. Neither of the two wants to take responsibility for their sin – this is indicative of what sin still does to us today. Then we hear about the rupture in the relationship between mankind and creation in terms of the toil of work and the enmity between mankind and the serpent. Finally we see an internal rupture as well with the beginning of pain – pain at childbirth being the example given. All of these are said to be a result of sin.
9 The LORD God then called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” 11 Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” 12 The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with meshe gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” 13 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.” 14 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. 15 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.” 20 The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.
P S A L M
Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
R: Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
1 Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; his right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm. (R) 2 The LORD has made his salvation known in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. 3 He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel. (R) All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. 4 Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; break into song; sing praise. (R)
The idea of God’s perfect will and that He has a predetermined plan is one that has occupied great theologians for centuries, the question of course being, how does this all fit in with the concept of human freewill? I think the case of Mary has a lot of merit here in that we clearly see that God has a plan and He allows that plan to be dependent upon the response of a woman. If Mary had said, “No,” He would simply persevere along another line to get to the desired end, namely the salvation of humanity.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, 4 as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love 5 he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, 6 for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. 11 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, 12 so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.
G O S P E L
The humility of Mary throughout her life is an inspiration to all seeking to be disciples of Jesus. She presumes nothing and never seeks to draw attention to herself or what she is doing. She simply goes about doing what God wants her to do. This reminds me of a prayer of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, “Lord, what do you want me to do today?” Can there be a better prayer than this to pray daily? I do not think so!
26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 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, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” 35 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. 36 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; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
think: Lord, what do you want me to do today?
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR 2 Corinthians 10-13
GETTING TO KNOW THE SAINTS
Saint Lawrence Justinian
Saint Lawrence Justinian, a writer, prophet and miracle worker, was born on July 1, 1381. He belonged to a prominent Venetian family. In his youth, Lawrence displayed a life of uncommon docility and generosity. He wanted to enter priesthood but his mother wanted him to marry. He sought the help of his uncle, Marino Ouerino, an Augustinian canon at San Giorgio. The canon advised him to put aside honors, riches and worldly pleasures in his discernment. Lawrence heeded his uncle s advice and later decided to join him in the monastery. Six years later, he was ordained a priest and made prior of San Giorgio.
The new priest was noted for being a good preacher and teacher of Christianity. He held a number of administrative positions, including the position of bishop in Castello and soon in Grado. When the see was moved to Venice, Laurence was named archbishop and patriarch by Pope Nicholas.
Saint Lawrence Justinian died in Venice, Italy on January 8, 1455. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Alexander VIII on October 16, 1690.
Regina belonged to a pagan family in Burgundy, France. According to legends, her mother died in giving birth, so she was entrusted to a Christian nurse who influenced her in faith. Regina s father was so furious that he refused to see his own child. Since the nurse was poor, she asked the girl to tend her sheep instead. The young lady found pleasure in her work as she found time to pray and read the lives of saints.
Years later, the prefect of the province, Olybrius saw Regina and fell in love with her. The maiden refused for she had dedicated her life to God. This made both Olybrius and her father furious. With her father as the chief jailer, the prefect ordered Regina to be imprisoned. Her father encased her in an iron belt and chained her to the walls. No matter how much Olybrius persuaded her, the saint remained firm in her decision. As a result, he had her tortured. His men scourged her over a wooden horse, had her nails torn from their beds and her skin rented by iron hooks. Regina recovered from the injuries, and that evening while in prison, she saw a vision of the cross and heard a voice declaring her release. The day after, Olybrius made the punishment more unbearable. He used torches on the saint s side, crucified her and finally had her beheaded.
Regina died in c.286 and a dove hovering over the saint s head converted those who witnessed.
When Bernadette Soubirous asked the beautiful lady who was appearing to her at Lourdes, France, in 1858, who she was, the lady answered, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
The Immaculate Conception – Mama Mary wanted us to remember God more than herself. The Immaculate Conception – this is what we celebrate today. On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX defined the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, making this feast celebrated in the East since the 8th century a part of the article of faith of the Universal Church. The dogma states that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, in view of her unique vocation as mother of the Son of God, has been free from the stain of original sin.
The Immaculate Conception was because of the Divine Motherhood. It was God’s work just as her becoming the mother of His Son was purely God’s unique grace given her. We celebrate the Immaculate Conception to remember three things and so live by it.
First, the Immaculate Conception was the triumph of good over evil, of grace over sin. Eve, the first woman, though called “mother of all the living”, became the “mother of all the dead” because of her disobedience. God reversed the effect of Eve’s disobedience by the obedience of Mama Mary. The Immaculate Conception was God’s victory even before the ultimate battle on the cross was won by His Son.
Second, the Immaculate Conception affirmed that Mariology is a function of Christology. Her preservation from all sin had a definite orientation: her Divine Motherhood. She was given this unique privilege not for her own sake.
Third, the Immaculate Conception assured us that God supplies the grace needed for the vocation He calls us to. While it was true that she remained free as to what response she would give to God’s calling, Mama Mary was nonetheless readied, nurtured, and supported by God’s grace. Without it, she would not have responded to God’s calling the way she did. Without a prior grace from God, Mama Mary would not have been able to accept and fulfill her vocation.
“The Immaculate Conception” – this is the name of Mama Mary by which all generations call her “blessed”. Fr. Bobby T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: “Mary is blessed among all women because she conceived the Word in her heart before she conceived Him in her womb” (St. Augustine of Hippo).
“O Mary, conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee” (Traditional Marian ejaculatory prayer).
St. Macarius, martyr, pray for us.
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