Thursday, December 08, 2011

Thursday word, 08 Dec 2011

Given and Received
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (08 Dec 2011)
Gn 3. 9-15,20; Ps 98; Eph 1. 3-6,11-12; Lk 1. 26-38
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Creation runs through scripture from beginning to end. To use musical language, creation is a principle theme with many variations. Sunday, the Second Letter of Peter reminded us that God assures and encourages us to look forward to new heavens and a new earth.1 How we live, how we witness to our Savior testifies to that new creation. How we live shapes how we anticipate what
has been emerging in creation from the first Advent of Mary’s son, when he lived, died and rose to absolutely new life. Jesus offers us a taste of that new creation in word, sacrament and service, each given and received.
Recalling Mary’s immaculate conception previews new heavens and a new earth. Mary was conceived without sin to be a fitting vessel for the Son of God. The Mother of God was full of grace for that very reason! This dogma of ours has a practical aspect because Mary’s immaculate conception blesses us with new confidence.
Hers is new confidence because confidence evaporated early in the first creation. The first stewards of creation had the noble vocation to cultivate and care for2 their garden-home and to name every living thing.3 Both took confidence: a trust; a self-possession; and a feeling at home with oneself as well as with one’s surroundings. The enemy of our human nature, which Genesis depicted by a serpent to impart the subtle, crafty wiles abroad in creation, twisted trust into pride. God had given the first humans a single prohibition, “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat.”4 Pride made that tree like the others for the first human stewards. After eating it they grew afraid to meet God, who accompanied them and moved with them day by day. Humans have suffered a crisis of confidence ever since. Mistrust, loss of self-composure and not feeling at home with oneself or one’s surroundings have warped humans from our beginnings.

Yet time has always been pregnant with God’s salvation. In the fullness of time,5 that is to say, when the Lord made known [the Lord’s] salvation to Mary, she overcame her anxiety at the angelgreeting and announcement that she would be the Mother of God.
Not easy at all! Some forget, others ignore Mary was greatly troubled: the human crisis of confidence insinuated itself in her mind while she was in her own home! If that moment were to have a center, it would be the angel’s greeting, “Do not be afraid, have found favor with God.” Mary made everything—present and future—revolve around that center by taking the angel, and thus God, at God’s word: “Let it happen to me as you say.”
We might easily dismiss Mary’s compact response as the reply of a greatly troubled girl, whose married life was soon to begin. Her reply was anything but! Mary’s response was her unequivocal Yes, her confidence in God and God’s promise of salvation. She was different after it, and the world is different because of it. Our world counts on us and all who revere her to imitate Mary’s new confidence so we may transform crisis to renewed faith and be witnesses by our choices and actions of new heavens and a new earth. They continue emerging because of Mary’s son and his life, death and resurrection. Christian faith and its incarnation by action is the Lord’s salvation, given and received.
  1. Chapter 3.13. This rests between its early mention in Isaiah 65.17 and 66.22 and the Book of Revelation (22.1), which specified it with vivid imagery.
  2. Genesis 2.15.
  3. Genesis 2.19.
  4. Genesis 2. 16-17.
  5. Galatians 4.4; also see Mark 1.15.
Wiki-image by Gryffindor of interior of the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is used according to CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Wiki-image of Tanners Annunciation is in the public domain.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Alma Redemtoris Mater
alma_redemptoris_mater.jpgAlma Redemptóris Mater, quae pérvia caeli
porta manes, et stella maris, succúrre cadénti,
súrgere qui curat, pópulo; tu quae genuísti,
natúra miránte, tuum sanctum Genitórem,
Virgo prius ac postérius, Gabriélis ab ore
sumens illud Ave, peccatórum miserére.

Loving Mother of our Redeemer, hear thou thy people's cry
Star of the deep and Portal of the sky!
Mother of Him who thee made from nothing made.
Sinking we strive and call to thee for aid:
Oh, by what joy which Gabriel brought to thee,
Thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.

One of the four Marian antiphons of the Church, along with the Salve Regina, the Regina Caeli and the Ave Regina Caelorum