Gospel: 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.
TUNE THE EAR TO GOD: There are so many radio/televisions broadcasts in the air but we remain tuned to only one broadcast. Mary remained tuned to listen to the voice of God. She had been brought up in accordance with the tradition of ‘turning the ear to the wisdom’ (Proverb 2,2) and had the lifestyle of pondering the word of God in her heart (Lk 2,51). Remaining tuned to the voice of God is a fruit of strenuous labour and of grace of God . There are so many noises for the sheep, but it recognizes the voice of the shepherd (John 10, 3). The attitude of remaining tuned can be obtained by: seeking the voice of God in the daily reading of the Bible, listening to Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist, meditation and reciting continuously the name of Jesus (Nama Jeba) or a short phrase from the Bible.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to remain tuned to your voice.
SET THE WORLD AFLAME WITH YOUR ‘GRACE’: Eve was named so, because she was the mother of all the Living (Gen 3: 20). But she also brought on humanity the burden of sin; she fell for the lures of the serpent. As a result, from then on, a series of curses or adversities fell on her as their inheritance. It took the second Eve to reverse the course: Mary said I am the handmaid of the Lord. She announced her willingness to walk the Lord’s line. She took it upon herself to walk beside the Anointed of the Lord: and thus be the co-redemptress! The earth polluted and prostituted for years together necessitates a very concerted campaign and effort to establish any semblance of an ecological balance. Man’s immense greed to exploit and overpower has brought it to such a pass. In a similar fashion Mary, picked up from her very first moment in life, had a great role to play in the salvation story. She alone could fill the vacuum caused by the lapse of the first Eve. Mary stands tall among women in salvation history for her singular contribution. True, she alone deserves the title ‘mother of the living’. Let us venerate her, place her on the pedestal of our hearts. But more, her shining example needs to be lived by every Christian.
“HAIL, FULL OF GRACE! THE LORD IS WITH YOU.” Today’s solemnity has been celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox churches since the 5th century. In the Roman Catholic Church, it became a feast from 1708, even though the dogma was declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854. The feast is celebrated today (8th December) nine months before the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (8th September). What is the meaning of Mary being immaculately conceived? Negatively stated, the salvific action of Jesus in his death and resurrection had a retrospective effect on Mary preserving her from the stain of Original Sin, right from conception. However, positively stated, Mary was full of grace right from conception. Therefore, the greeting of angel Gabriel acknowledges the gratuitous action of God on Mary; chosen to be Mother of the Son of God. For us, though conceived in Original Sin, by the death and resurrection of Jesus, and by virtue of our baptism, we are full of grace. May we respond to that grace by our choice of free will.