Homily: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Readings of the Day

Do you remember where you were at age 14? Junior High school, probably, or High School perhaps. A time of changes, a time of uncertainty, a time of not knowing what was ahead. In many ways you weren’t a kid anymore, but you didn’t know what you really were or were going to be.

It was different in ancient times. Girls were frequently married at that age, and their world was rather small. The expectation was they would take care of their families, do all the domestic chores, the hours of cooking, weaving clothes, taking care of children, and they would do all this with the other women of the village generally. Do this with their relatives, usually. Occasionally they would market small items they made by hand, like baskets, supplement the family resources with a few coins. They never had major decisions to make.

Until one girl in Roman occupied Palestine had to make one. Mary was engaged, knew what her future would be, or rather, thought she knew. Until an angel came, treated her differently than she had ever been treated before, and told her differently. Told her that she was the Chosen One, of all the Jewish girls in history who heard the whisper they might give birth to the Messiah, it would come true for her. Told her that her choice would impact the history of the world, the history of the universe.

It seems to have boggled her mind; it would boggle ours today if we heard it. We are chosen, we are called: our situation is the same as Mary’s. Jesus is going to become part of us, become part of our bodies very soon. How His presence is made in the world depends on us. Mary had an uncertain future, she didn’t know what it would mean, how it would affect her, what it would do to the relationships around her. Mary was chosen, yet she had a choice. Out of faith, she said ‘yes’ to God with all her being. That simple ‘yes’ has changed the world forever.

God tells us the same thing Gabriel told Mary: Christ is going to be part of us. Christ won’t be able to appear in the world without us. We are chosen, as individuals, as a Church, as a community. Our ‘yes’ to God is what’s important, and we have a role model. Perhaps the most important goal for all of us to let our ‘yes’ to Christ be as complete and courageous as Mary’s was, in spite of our fear and uncertainty. We may not know what our immediate future is any more than Mary did, but we have the promise that our ‘yes’ will be the best choice we can ever make, and our reward will be as sure as hers.

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