December 8, 2020 At St. Peter & St. William Churches in Naples, FL
Genesis 3, 19-15, 20 + Psalm 98 + Ephesians 1, 3-6, 11-12 + Luke 1, 26-38
Sometimes I think that the idea behind this feast suggests that because Mary was “conceived without sin” suggests that she had no choice that day, that her life was so planned out by God that she could not have said “no” and gone on with her life just as she had planned. I’m not so sure that is the case, because I am very sure that God who gave us all the gift of freedom would not take away that gift from anyone. The bottom line here is that she was free to say “no” and chose not to.
While the Gospel compresses this scene into a few verses as though the whole matter was settled in a few seconds, there is no reason to think that Mary did not have to pause, and perhaps even “sleep on it” as many of us do when confronted with a life-changing choice. What we affirm today as Catholics is the power of grace.
What words cannot explain, faith accepts as the mystery that makes our salvation possible. “Immaculate Conception” is our best attempt to put into words what we believe was God’s plan for us, the Incarnation. There is another big word that takes some thought and reflection. What it all boils down to is this. What humankind once did with a bad choice, humankind restores with a good choice. The relationship God intended to have with us as described in Genesis and the figures of Adam and Eve, is restored when one of us chose to put the Will of God above their own will. When that choice is made, creation begins again. Sometimes when my computer jams up or stops working right, turn it off and reboot. Most of the time, the problem goes away and it all works fine. It is a silly comparison, but for me, it works.
By the choice of young woman, creation was rebooted in a sense, and as long as God’s people continue to consider and honor the Will of God before their own, all will be well. Taught by this faithful woman, we shall be like her Son who surely learned from his mother to choose God’s will even if it seems inconvenient or suddenly life-changing. He learned from her how to say: “Thy Will be Done.” He said it the night before he died in the Garden of Olives outside Jerusalem. When we do the same, there opens for us a new and glorious future: Life with God forever. If you want that, learn from this woman we honor today how to achieve it.