Feast of the Immaculate Conception

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Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary


First Reading

Genesis 3,9-15.20

But Yahweh God called to the man. 'Where are you?' he asked. 'I heard the sound of you in the garden,' he replied. 'I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.' 'Who told you that you were naked?' he asked. 'Have you been eating from the tree I forbade you to eat?' The man replied, 'It was the woman you put with me; she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.' Then Yahweh God said to the woman, 'Why did you do that?' The woman replied, 'The snake tempted me and I ate.' Then Yahweh God said to the snake, 'Because you have done this, Accursed be you of all animals wild and tame! On your belly you will go and on dust you will feed as long as you live. I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel.' The man named his wife 'Eve' because she was the mother of all those who live.

Psalmody

Psalm 97

Antiphon

Shout and sing praises to the Lord.

Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders.

His right hand and his holy arm
have brought salvation.

The lord has made known his salvation;
has shown his justice to the nations.

He has remembered his truth and love
for the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our god.

Shout to the Lord all the earth,
ring out your joy.

Sing Psalms to the Lord with the harp
with the sound of music.

With trumpets and the sound of the horn
acclaim the Kind, the Lord.

Let the sea and all within it, thunder;
the world, and all its peoples.

Let the river clap their hands
and the hills ring out their joy

at the presence of the Lord : for he comes,
he comes to rule the earth.

He will rule with the world with justice
and the peoples with fairness.

Second Reading

Ephesians 1,3-6.11-12

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ. Thus he chose us in Christ before the world was made to be holy and faultless before him in love, marking us out for himself beforehand, to be adopted sons, through Jesus Christ. Such was his purpose and good pleasure, to the praise of the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved, And it is in him that we have received our heritage, marked out beforehand as we were, under the plan of the One who guides all things as he decides by his own will, chosen to be, for the praise of his glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 1,26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. He went in and said to her, 'Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favour! The Lord is with you.' She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, 'Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God's favour. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.' Mary said to the angel, 'But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. And I tell you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.' Mary said, 'You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.' And the angel left her.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

This second Sunday of Advent corresponds with the feast of the Mother of God, the Immaculate. This title means that she was conceived without original sin, without the inclination that pushes every man and woman to do evil. The passage from the book of Genesis describes original sin through the symbolic story of Adam and Eve, who choose to follow voice of the serpent rather than the voice of God, who had placed them in a garden where they lived in peace and where God himself spent time walking with them in the morning breeze. The couple could eat the fruit of any of the trees, except the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, under pain of death. But then the serpent, the tempter, came forward and presented himself. He convinced them that God was jealous of them, saying, "You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." This dramatic story reveals the mystery of their sin, which is called the original sin. The serpent indicates the presence of the tempter in the world, the one who tries to convince men and women to worship themselves: "You will be like God." Yes, ever since the beginning, evil has continued to push men and women to self-exaltation, to listen to their pride, to think about themselves before anyone else. This has been the cause of division, injustice, hatred, destruction, conflict, and war. The tempter continues to creep into the deepest folds of the human heart: the bonds that hold us together dissolve and divisions multiply. It seems like an unstoppable, invincible cycle!
But then comes Mary and the mystery that we contemplate today, which was already present at her conception. This young woman - who recalls the woman who would crush the head of the serpent that had pushed Eve to sin - is preserved from original sin, from the instinctual love for self that wounds every man and woman. With Mary the tragic cycle that carries men and women towards sin and death is broken. Conceived without sin, Mary begins a new phase in human history, a time of friendship with God that is even more beautiful than the one in which Adam and Eve lived. They were spared from death. We have been brought into an even greater hope. Mary was conceived without sin by grace, not merit. As the holy Fathers often said, the one who was meant to carry the Son of God in her womb could not have been stained by original sin. The Son's love protected the mother.
The mystery of how Mary is protected from evil that we contemplate today is connected to the mystery of the Church itself, the community of believers. And people's faith has instinctively made this feast very popular throughout the world. The Lord has looked on the Church in the same way he looked on Mary at the moment of her conception.
This is the mystery of Mary the Immaculate, the mystery of the Church, the mystery of the Community of believers. Even if its members are sinners, the Church, like Mary, is called to listen to the voice of the angel and say yes, just as the Gospel says Mary did. And we will hear the angel's words spoken to us, "Do not be afraid, Mary...For nothing will be impossible with God."