If you ever feel distressed during your day, call upon our Lady, just say this simple prayer: 'Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.' I must admit, this prayer has never failed me.- St Teresa of Kolkata: (1910 – 1997: Founded the Missionaries of Charity)
Gospel Text: (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.
Like the Assumption, our celebration of Mary’s Immaculate Conception tells us something very important about humanity: that is, humanity as we were meant to be “in the beginning”. Our belief that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, without Original Sin tells us as Catholics that Mary is exactly the type of human being God meant each of us to be. In the words of St. Paul, “God chose us in him[,] before the world began, to be holy and blameless in his sight, to be full of love.”
This is what our belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception says about her: that she was full of love. We do not believe that Mary is a goddess, or even super-human. The Blessed Virgin Mary is simply human, what each of us who is human is called to be: “holy and blameless in God’s sight, full of love.” That’s how St. Gabriel salutes Mary in the Gospel: “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you!”
God the Father wanted the best possible mother for His Son, and so He granted the grace to Mary which would make her, for Jesus, a mother who would physically and spiritually give nothing to her Son but the “fullness of love” which God means all of us humans to have. And because Mary is the Mother of Jesus, she is our mother as well. She is the Immaculate Conception, through whom Jesus entered the world. Through her each of us is healed, if we accept in faith the gift of healing God wants to give us. In this season of Advent we meditate on the fact that this God’s gift of the Immaculate Conception has made Mary, for each of us, not only the Mother of the Church, but the model for each of us of what it means to accept Christ into our lives.