Monday, December 8, 2008

Be Not Afraid

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception-

So let's address the common 'mis'conception, and get that out of the way- today celebrates the day MARY was conceived by St. Anne without original sin. Not the day Mary conceived Jesus.

Now that that's out of the way, I wanted to share with you my reflection today!

The first reading for this feast is from Genesis, and it is the fall of Adam and Eve. It is pretty common knowledge in the Church that Mary is known as the New or Second Eve. That she is meant to right what Eve did wrong. And so the readings today also show this. The Gospel is the Annunciation account, or Mary's 'Yes'.

Both Mary and Eve were afraid in their respective stories. The difference is how they react to this fear.

In reading the Genesis account, I always identify with Adam and Eve, as we all should. We are all born with the original sin that this story is meant to depict. And it can be a hopeless account, if we get stuck there. We can get paralyzed by the fear of sin, we can think that there is no way out. And there isn't, on our own. Which is where the Gospel- the GOOD NEWS- comes in.

Mary's Immaculate Conception is that she isn't born with the original sin we are. She was set apart. I used to think this made me not able to identify with Mary. I'd get a little jealous of her. It seemed so easy for her then. But then I think about her getting pregnant out of wedlock and what that meant in her culture and getting betrothed, and watching her only Son die violently. Hmmm...nothing I really have or hope to endure. She wins. I'll give her the no original sin thing ;)

The beauty of Mary is that she was afraid when the angel came to her and asked her to do something she didn't think she was prepared for. But she said 'Yes, let it be done to me'- her fiat. So rarely like us. We get caught up in our fear and let that control us, rather than surrendering to God like Mary did.

So Mary is the new Eve, in that she gives us a new example. Where Eve failed, she picks up and shows us if we rely on God- not our own control, or fear- then we are free.

And I often forget about the Sacrament at Baptism. This feast day also reminds us of our Baptism and the NEW LIFE promised through Mary's yes. Because Mary said yes, we have Jesus. And because we have Jesus, He died and rose from the dead, giving us freedom and new life-freedom from the chains of sin! And because of this, we have Baptism which wipes away our original sin and helping us to be more reliant on God.

May we thank Mary and Jesus for their 'yes' today. Thank God for sending them to us and caring that much about us. And may we think of our Baptism and what it means- that we can TRUST our God and our faith, and not live in fear like Adam and Eve.

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