Three Reasons for Thanksgiving on the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convention of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
December 8, 2017
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: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception shows us first the work and initiative of God. It celebrates his love for Mary and for all of us in acting to preserve her free from original sin from the first moment of her existence in the womb. We see his plan of action foretold in today’s first reading, in describing the enmity he would place between the devil and “the woman,” and that enmity was first shown by God in separating her from the influence of sin from the first moment of her life. She was filled with every spiritual blessing by being filled with grace — as the Archangel greets here — which means filled with God. What God did in her is, we could say, the beginning of the immediate phase of Advent.
  • The second thing we mark today is Mary’s response to that vocation to be filled with God. She identified with it and constantly chose to nourish it and act in conformity with God. She could have sinned, but never did. She identified herself to St. Bernadette in Lourdes as, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Pope Francis said this morning that she intensified her being filled with God by constantly pondering God’s word so that it could take on her flesh.
  • The third thing we rejoice in today is that Mary seeks to incorporate us into her special graces, to give us a share in her enmity for evil, to help us receive in her Son every spiritual blessing in the heavens. At the end of this centenary of the apparitions of Fatima, we recall that she appeared to the three shepherd children asking them to pray with her for the conversion of sinners, showing them three visions of the consequences of sin — Hell, the march of atheistic communism, and the persecution of the Church — and asking them in response to consecrate themselves and have the Church consecrate the world, especially Russia, to her Immaculate Heart. She wanted us to enter into her heart, the heart that treasures God’s action and word, the heart that loves God and neighbor, the heart that constantly says fiat. That’s what consecration means. We ask her for her heart and to transform our heart to be more like hers. “Praebe mihi cor tuum, O Maria!,” we pray with St. John Paul II and St. Louis de Montfort. And she promised in Fatima that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph. Grace would triumph. God would triumph.
  • The greatest way to celebrate this Feast is here at Mass, where God continually makes the first move to fill us with grace, to fill us with God, to fill us with every spiritual blessing, by giving us his Son. We ask the Immaculate Conception to pray for us that we might treasure him within as she did during his gestation. We ask her never to cease praying for us so that in this world we may be “holy and immaculate” in God’s sight and rejoice with her and all the saints in beholding God forever in the next

 

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.