If you asked 9 out of 10 Catholics what today’s feast celebrates, they would tell you that it celebrates the day that the angel Gabriel came to Mary and Jesus was conceived. Of course, 9 out of 10 Catholics would be wrong, but does that really surprise us? Today of course the math doesn’t add up for that to work. Christmas is what, 18 days away? No today celebrates that great day in human history when the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived in the womb of her own mother and preserved from original sin.
Why? Because God had a plan. We hear in the Book of Genesis in today’s first reading about how man messed up that plan. God had created the world good; God had created the world as it should be yet, man interfered through sin and messed up that plan. But rather than just give up hope, God foresaw that and had another plan and that plan goes through the Blessed Virgin Mary. He would send His own Son into the world to redeem us; to become one of us so that we might become like Him.
Of course, to do this the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from sin. How do we know this? Well open your eyes and read today’s Gospel. Did you notice how the angel greeted Mary; hail full of grace? We are told that even Mary is puzzled by this greeting full of grace. You can only call someone full of grace if they are without sin. The angel Gabriel knew who the Blessed Virgin Mary was and the plan that God had for her. Of course, it makes perfect logical sense as well. If she is going to become the mother of God, if God is to dwell inside of her for 9 months, if she is to become the first tabernacle, there can be no trace of sin. Afterall how can God dwell where sin dwells.
Certainly, the Blessed Virgin Mary was human like you and I. Yes, preserved from the stain of original sin, but certainly endowed with the gift of free will. She choose to follow God in every instance of her life. You and I are invited to become like her. Of course, we were all born with original sin, but that sin was washed clean at our baptism. In just a few moments, you and I are going to be invited to become like her in perhaps the most intimate way possible when Jesus Himself, truly present in the Eucharist comes to dwell inside of us. You are I, for just a few moments will carry Jesus within us.
Like Mary we will be a tabernacle. How prepared are we? Are we free from sin? Are we prepared to receive Him into our bodies?
One great sadness for me is how few people recognize the great power that Mary has. In this great plan that God has for the world, He choose her, of every other human peon to walk this earth, He choose her, to be the mother of God. He trusted her to care for Jesus Christ. If she is good enough for God, why is she not good enough for us? If she is good enough for God then she better be good enough for us as well. Today’s feast then also invites us to step back and ask, how do we turn to her, the perfect model, the perfect human, not just to imitate her but to allow her to be our spiritual mother.
Friends, I think today’s feast challenges us to do two things. Firstly, to look inwardly at ourselves and ask ourselves how we receive Holy Communion. Are we truly prepared to become a tabernacle? Secondly it challenges us to turn to our mother, who is perfect, and ask her to show us how is the words of St. Paul, we can be like God. After all God has chosen us too. Yes, for a different plan and different path, why not choose the woman who lived her path perfectly to guide and shepherd us down whatever path God is calling us to travel.