Consecration to Mary’s Immaculately Conceived and Preserved Heart, Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Church of the Holy Family, Manhattan
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
December 8, 2016
Gen 3:9-15.20, Ps 98, Eph 1:3-6.11-12, Lk 1:26-38

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

To listen to a slightly different and shorter version given earlier in the day to the Sisters of Life, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • What makes this year’s celebration of Mary’s Immaculate Conception particularly special is that it is taking place five months and five days before the Church celebrates the 100th anniversary of Mary’s apparitions in Fatima, where she urged us all to consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart. It’s not enough for us merely to mark her feast; she urges us to entrust ourselves to her immaculate heart, a heart that loves God, treasures his word, is pure and sees him in others, that says “fiat,”, and a heart that loves us and wants to help us love to the full.
  • St. John Paul II described the essence of consecration in his 1996 exhortation Vita Consecrata. He said that “Mary is the one who, from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, … is the sublime example of perfect consecration, since she belongs completely to God and is totally devoted to him. Chosen by the Lord, who wished to accomplish in her the mystery of the Incarnation, she reminds consecrated persons of the primacy of God’s initiative. At the same time, having given her assent to the divine Word, made flesh in her, Mary is the model of the acceptance of grace by human creatures.”
  • We see those two elements — God’s initiative and human cooperation — in today’s readings. In the first reading, after Adam and Eve sinned, God took the initiative and announced the redemption, what’s called the “first Gospel,” telling the serpent he would place “enmity between you and the woman and between her offspring and yours.” Mary is the one who had nothing to do with the devil and her Offspring, Jesus, was the one who defeated him once and for all. Mary received the fruits of Jesus’ triumph 47 years in time before he accomplished it eternally. The prevenient grace she received from the first moment of her existence is this sign of God’s initiative. We see that initiative continue to be proclaimed in St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, in which we learn that “before the foundation of the world,” God the Father ” blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him … to be holy and without blemish before him,” destining us for adoption. God has these blessings in store before we were conceived, before the world was conceived. We see God’s initiative likewise with Mary, sending the Angel Gabriel to announce to her “Rejoice, you who have been filled with grace.” She was filled with God by God before even her first choice. She was filled with every spiritual blessing and the greatest of all, God himself, in her heart and then her womb.
  • But we also see in Mary how to respond. After having her questions about God’s modality answered — essentially asking how she would be a mom while remaining true to her consecration to God as a virgin — she replied, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” She shows a wholehearted response to God’s blessing. We see her sing out in praise of those blessings in her Magnificat, that the Lord, the Almighty, has done great things for her in her lowliness. And in contrast to how Adam and Eve squandered rather than corresponded to God’s blessings, Mary shows us similarly how to cooperate with God’s gift.
  • To consecrate ourselves to God through Mary is to enter into her own consecration, her own yes, her own blessings, and she seeks to convert those gifts for us and our salvation, serving us every way she can. Today as we celebrate her inimitable grace, we ask her to help us emulate her in corresponding to the Sacraments — especially Baptism and Penance — so that we, too, can live holy and immaculate in God’s sight…

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 Gn 3:9-15, 20

After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
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!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
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.”
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.
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.”The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

R. (1) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
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. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.

Reading 2 Eph 1:3-6, 11-12

Brothers and sisters:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.
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,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.

Alleluia See Lk 1:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
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.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
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.
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;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
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.