The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

In the readings for today’s mass we see the contrast between Eve and Marry.  The couple in the garden seem very familiar.  Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating of the forbidden fruit.  When God asked Adam why he had done such a thing, he blamed Eve.  When God questioned Eve, she blamed the serpent.  Neither of them wanted to take responsibility and so both of them, along with the serpent were thrown out of the garden.  Most of the problems we face in this modern world can be traced to someone not taking responsibility for their own actions.

Fast forward to today.  Many of our brothers and sisters blame their poor choices on someone or something outside themselves.  They blame their parents.  They blame their school.  They blame the government.  They blame “society”, whatever that is.   Rarely do we hear someone say, “I made a bad choice.  I did something stupid.  I take full responsibility for my actions.”  Like Adam and Eve, we blame everyone but ourselves.

Contrast this with Mary’s response to the angel in today’s Gospel.  In the first-century world there was hardly anyone lower in society than Mary.  She was a young girl from a small town.  She was unmarried, which meant she had no place in the community.  Yet here was the angel telling her that she would bear a son, even though she had never had relations with a man.  And, not just any son.  “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, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”  Imagine how frightening this must have been for her.  She was to be the mother of a king who would rule forever.

No one would have blamed Mary if she had refused.  But, she didn’t.  She accepted God’s word and agreed to do what He asked of her.

How many of us have been asked to do something big; something we thought was beyond our capabilities?  How did we respond?  Every idea we have, every challenge we face is a call from God.  Do we respond like Adam and Eve, or do we respond like Mary?  It’s not hard to notice that every Catholic church in the world has at least one statue or painting of the blessed Virgin.  You can’t say the same for Adam and Eve.  Mary’s response, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.” is our model.  As you reflect on this solemnity, this Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent, think of the times you had a chance to say “yes” to God.  What happened when you said “yes” and what happened when you said “no”.

Like I said in the beginning, the world would be a much better place if more people would follow Mary’s example and if fewer people followed Adam and Eve’s.

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