08 December 2006

Mary's YES is our mission

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM:
Gen 3.9-15, 20; Eph 1.3-6, 11-12; and Luke 1.26-38
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Albert the Great Priory and the Church of the Incarnation

Our first Mother, Eve, willfully participated in an act of disobedience against God and lost our just relationship with Him in so doing. Her NO to God gave reign to sin. Our only Mother in Christ, Mary, obeyed God and participated willfully in the ultimate act of sacrifice to win back for us the possibility of a just relationship with Him. Her YES to God gave us a King to reign in our lives. Adam and Eve’s sin lost for all creation its righteousness before God. Jesus and Mary’s sacrificial offering of their bodies to the Father’s will restored all creation to righteousness. Today we celebrate our Blessed Mother’s clean beginning, her immaculate conception, and honor her for her fiat: “Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.”

Our family of salvation, the Church, has done an amazing job over the centuries of preserving for us a proper understanding of Mary and her place in our history of faith. The dual temptations of worshipping Mary as a goddess or ignoring her as a necessary means have haunted our magisterial duties w/o possessing the machines of dogma and doctrine, and possibly distorting who she was and is for us and to us: Mary is our first and only Mother in Christ. She said Yes to the Holy Spirit and bore the Word of Creation and Re-creation into the world. She carried that Word, witnessing in her body the humanity of our Savior, giving him flesh and blood, and participating, free from sin, in our salvation. The honor due Mary is never the worship due the Blessed Trinity, but the love and honor we pay our natural mothers, the love of children for the one who gave us life out and nurtured us to maturity.

Mary is the Mother of our salvation and she is the apostle of our mission as daughters and sons of a loving Father. At our baptism we picked up the mission of bearing the Word to the world. We became preachers of the Word. We picked up the perils of resisting all that the world worships as True, Good, and Beautiful. Preaching the Truth against the Lie stirs up the worst bitterness and the most violent passions of those who resent Mary’s Yes, who resent the gift of the Infant Jesus, and who will not to participate in their perfection in the Divine Life. We are imperiled by the threat of social and physical violence, but more problematically we are imperiled by the temptation to see the people threatened by us as hopeless or deserving of divine punishment. This second temptation—our judgment of others—is scandalously common and unworthy of the virgin-child who made our own Yes possible.

Our Mother’s Yes to bearing the Word in her body to us contains no taint of selfishness, anger, vengeance, malice, or arrogance. Her Yes was and is spoken purely, spoken willingly and eagerly, without irony, pretense, or sarcasm. Free from the swill of Adam and Eve’s original disobedience she sees cleanly, hears immaculately the call of the Spirit to be a willing vessel, a co-worker, a handmaid for God, with God, and to God. And because of her chosen and accepted labor of love, we honor her mission and ministry by doing what she did: by saying Yes to God, by bearing His Word into the world, by living lives of mothering grace, by walking with him to the cross—following his Way—, and by dying and rising with him.

Honor our Mother Mary, her immaculate conception, by saying with great conviction: Lord, let it be done to me according to your Word!

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