Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
In 1854 Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma of our faith, long-held sacred and celebrated over the centuries. Mary, the Immaculate Conception is Patroness of the Church in the United States, of our own diocese and the name of the Cathedral in Kansas City. The naming of two local villages was inspired by Mary’s title. Conception Abbey is under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception, and December 8 is the founding date of the abbey in 1873.
This Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is one of those feasts of God’s master plan for us and for our salvation. It is one of those moments that demonstrates God’s providential hand always at work. In this case, preparing the young Virgin Mary to be the Mother of the Savior. Mary, the mother of God, was preserved from the stain of sin – from the moment of her conception, as the woman destined to be the mother of the savior.
Three statements in today’s Scripture sum up everything about this day.
Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement: “let it be as you say.” That was a response of faith, of hope, of trust, and of willingness — a willingness to let God take hold of her and use her in his plan. God’s plan is far greater than any human plans. We all have a place in it, as predes¬tined, redeemed children of God. We can share in that plan in our ordinary existence. Our lives are detailed parts of the plan.
The angel said: nothing is impossible with God. That is something for us to remember every day. To the one who trusts and lets God in, many things are possible.
Mary expressed her consent and acknowledgment of God’s action: “God who is mighty has done great things for me.” Great things happen for us too. Many times it is those seemingly impossible things that are truly the GREAT THINGS, when, as God’s poor ones, we really feel that the Lord has looked on us in our lowliness and continually raises us up.
The God who chose Mary has also chosen us. The God who preserved her from all stain of sin from the first moment of her existence will surely cleanse us of our own sins by the power of the redemption won for us by Jesus, his son and hers.
We are here to celebrate what God has done for one young woman, Mary. But that is so that we can celebrate and be reminded of what wonderful things God has done and is doing for us!
Reflection by Fr. Peter Ullrich, OSB