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Mary, You Have Found Favor with God!
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
In the sixth month, 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, favored one! 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.
Opening Prayer: Alleluia! Today the Church rejoices in honor of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, immaculately conceived by virtue of the merits of her son Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus, bring me close to your dear Mother–my dear Mother too–who always leads me back to you.
- The Throne of David: On the feast of Mary’s conception, we have the Gospel reading of Jesus’s conception. God entered human history at last. At last, a descendant of David would sit on the throne of Israel, “and of his kingdom there will be no end.” It is difficult to capture the joy and fulfilled expectations contained in these tidings. At last, a Savior had come! The Old Testament spent forty-six books promising this and more than one-thousand years waiting for it. And all of it came to fruition on the day of Gabriel’s visit to Mary.
- Mary, God’s Handmaid: Years before Gabriel announced Jesus, God prepared a suitable dwelling place for his Incarnate Word in the girl Mary of Nazareth. He preserved her from all stain of original sin so that she could be the Mother of our Redeemer. God often works like this in our life as well. Long before we recognize his hand at work, he has already been at it for years, preparing our life circumstances for a moment of grace or an answer to our prayers. Mary Immaculate is our model of patient trust in God’s wise providence.
- De Maria, Numquam Satis: This Latin phrase from the wisdom of the Church means, “When it comes to Mary, we can never say enough.” Mary is the All-Beautiful One, the Mystical Rose, the Queen of Heaven, “the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1). Today is a day for marveling at Mary’s purity, and her tenderness, and her beauty, and many more virtues as well! Shakespeare wrote: “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!” Even if we stole every line of Shakespeare in order to speak of Mary–if we stole every line of every poem and every love song and all the beauty of every flower–it would not be enough to praise her. De Maria, numquam satis!
Conversing with Christ: Christ Jesus, your mother is the best mother anyone could ever have. And you did not keep her for yourself but made her my mother as well. Thank you for this feast in the Church and in heaven! All the angels (and especially Gabriel) rejoice today in honor of the Queen of Angels. Jesus, I praise you for your masterpiece Mary.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the Angelus with Marian devotion.
For Further Reflection: Contemplate several different paintings of the Annunciation which Christian artists down the ages have bequeathed us; for example, Leonardo Da Vinci’s or Fra Angelico’s.
Written by Br. Erik Burckel, LC.