Genesis 3:9-15,20; Ps 98 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds; Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12; Luke 1:26-38
What are some some stellar moments in world history? Think about a few. Some that come to mind are the following: the dropping of the Bomb on Hiroshima, the landing on the moon; the discovery of penicillin, the first heart transplant, The polo Vaccine and all other vaccines like it, the invention of the printing press, fireworks and dynamite, refrigeration (including AC), Solar power energy, Fossil fuels, Aviation, the elevator, MRI Machines and X Rays, purification of drinking water, wine and Spirits, and the list could go one forever.
There has been some great break throughs in history. Today in our readings for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary we are asked to reflect on two stellar moments of World history, that from which everything else turns.
We have the story of Adam and Eve's "no" to God and the fall. In the midst of their refusal to trust, they give in to doubt and uncertainty and temptation. In the middle of this uncertainty and confession, we encounter something surprising. God offers a counter to Adam and Eve's "no". God offers a solution. Rather than getting caught up in the blaming an pointing of fingers God is already looking for away through. He wants to lead humanity out of this darkness and into hope and light.
In Gen 3:15 we encounter the protoevangelion, the first glimmer of good news: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head while you strike at its heel."
God has a plan to pull humanity upward and out of this downward spiral created by mistrust. The woman and her offspring with inflict a deadly blow to the serpent (he will strike at your head) and yet the offspring may suffer (he will strike at your heal) he will will stand victorious. This is Christ who is wounded on Calvary but stands triumph as the tomb opens up to emptiness.
God's yes stands strong and true even in the face of humanity's opposition. In fact, God escorts Adam and Eve out of the garden not as punishment but to safe them form their self-destructive ways. He won't let them eat of the fruit of the tree of life lest they remain in this state of fallenness: confession doubting, distrustful, shameful etc. God doesn't want them to settle for lest but to reach their true potential of greatness.
Then in the gospel we have another stellar moment in history. In fact the angel coming to Mary and her "yes" to God is the most important moment in human history as we know it. One like us has opened up to God.
Mary's "yes" continues to echo forth and bring goodness into our life. Mary's yes open's our world to God and brings Jesus Christ into our time and space. This stellar moment as described in the gospel is a quiet moment. It is not reported with pomp. In fact it is often overlooked.
This moment reminds us that true greatness grows outside of the limelight. Stillness of Nazareth becomes more fruitful than busyness.
So much of our life is measured by what we do, activities and exercises. Here in Nazareth in the simple greeting of the angel to Mary we discover life is about what we receive before it is ever about what we do. What we receive is just as important.
Mary received the invitation of God. In the quite and stillness she open her life to his gift of the Holy Spirit and the history of the world has been transformed.
How do we imitate Mary in our life? How do we set aside the busyness of life and become more receptive to his gift in such manner that like Mary by our life we open our world to God's goodness and transforming love?
This is the Immaculate Conception.