Reflection for Monday, December 8, 2003: Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemnity.

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Alexander, Andy, S.J.
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This is a wonderful feast to celebrate early in our Advent journey. It is a very "Catholic" celebration. It represents a profound belief in the way God worked to save us. It represents a long standing conviction that God began to reverse the negative effects of sin, beginning with Mary. God began our redemption in her - freeing her from the power of sin and death. Her judgement was not clouded, her freedom was not compromised. Our God would enter this world through a woman restored to the original freedom of Adam and Eve. She was able to say "yes" where they had said "no." She was able to prepare the way for and raise a child who would be able to undo the death-dealing power of the sin of Adam.||Today we celebrate the beginning of our redemption, for we believe that in the moment Mary came to life in her own mother's womb she was pre-redeemed. What her Son would do for us all was given to her as a gift. She would be so free, so available, so open, so fruitful, that the one who would save his people from their sins might be born in her.|Just as we are re-born in baptism, freed from the power of sin and death and given our mission in the world, Mary was born into this world with the same freedom and mission of baptism - made one with her Son.|I feel drawn to reflect on four things today.|1. It is wonderful to think of how important we are to each other. We like to say that Jesus was who he is because he was "the Son of God." But today we reflect on what it means that he was the "Son of Mary." In his experience of life in this world, he was shaped by his mother to be free. The woman who could say, "I am your servant, my whole being is at your service," raised a son who would say, "Father, may your will, not mine, be done." During this Advent season we can look at all the relationships around us and ask ourselves if we help those around us to be free, and to do what God calls them to do. Are we "full of grace" for our families and friends?|2. And it is wonderful to think that we have been freed. The words of the letter to the Ephesians are so powerful:| Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,| who has blessed us in Christ| with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,| as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,| to be holy and without blemish before him.|In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,| in accord with the favor of his will,| for the praise of the glory of his grace| that he granted us in the beloved.| We deeply believe that we now can enjoy what Mary was given. We've been "chosen" - chosen to be holy and completely free before our God. All God has ever wanted for each of us is that we would be his children, desiring for us everything he could give us. The longing of Advent is to grow in our desire to be who we are chosen to be.|3. And, it is wonderful to reflect on the words of Elizabeth to Mary. After the words of the angel, Mary hurried to be with her cousin, to care for her. Elizabeth said:|"Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."| Let's trust, let's believe that what the Lord has promised us will be fulfilled. Let's give ourselves to our vocation to give life - with deep gratitude, to proclaim the greatness of God by being God's servants. And, in the discouraged moments, in times of darkness, let's ask Mary to re-freshen our spirits for our mission - to love freely and creatively.|4. Finally, let's turn to the Queen of Peace in these days so darkened by terrorism and war. May Mary, the Patroness of the United States of America, plead to her Son on our behalf as a nation, that we might be a source of peace and justice in our world.|"Nothing will be impossible for God."
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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