December 8, 2007
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
I remember being in a museum at a special exhibit. The exhibit was a collection of Old Testament themed paintings. There was one that stuck with me and it was a painting about God coming to Adam and Eve after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. It was based on our Old Testament reading today.In the painting, the Garden of Eden was in a state of chaos. The sunny sky had been replaced with gray storm clouds, animals that had lived in peace were now tearing at each other, the lush fields had become wild with weeds. And there in the middle was the frightened Adam and Eve while lurking off to the side was a dark, ominous figure. That dark figure was sin. The theme of the painting was clearly one of chaos, the chaos that sin brought into the world.
I was thinking about that painting as I was preparing for our Mass. I was thinking about the many paintings I have seen of the Archangel Gabriel appearing to our Blessed Mother. The paintings are always so serene and calm, almost sterile. That has always puzzled me. Don't you think that if an archangel appeared to you and informed you that you were going to be the Mother of God you might get a little freaked out? Don't you think that being informed that you were going to be the vessel for humanity's salvation to arrive you might be more than a bit frightened? Yet the paintings are always so calm and pastoral. I can't help but think we are missing something.
I believe that our readings from Genesis and Luke are both about chaos but two very different types of chaos. In Genesis, the world is thrown into chaos by sin. Sin is the destroyer of all that is calm. Sin creates a wave of chaos that engulfs Adam and Eve and hurls the Garden of Eden into terror as God approaches. Then, in our reading from Luke, chaos once again. However, the chaos created is one that throws sin into the grips of terror! Now it is sin's turn to flee in terror from the presence of God! In the fullness of time, the light is breaking upon humanity! The prayers for salvation, deliverance from bondage are being fulfilled and sin doesn't stand a chance!
Today we celebrate a miracle, the Immaculate Conception. We celebrate the reality that God has always had a plan for us. God has always been prepared to redeem us. Although we have repeatedly refused God's intervention, God never gave up on us! The Immaculate Conception is the reality that God, even before Mary's birth, had a plan. Mary would be kept free from sin so that she could become part of God's plan for the salvation of humanity. In the invisible realm of God, God was at work to make sure that we were never abandoned to the chaos created by sin. In the Immaculate Conception and the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel, God throws sin into a state of chaos, a chaos from which sin can never be free. Sin is destroyed because of the Blessed Mother's Immaculate Conception and her willingness to say yes to God!
We celebrate today, a miracle. The Immaculate Conception is often glossed over as just a holy day that we have to come to church for. If we view it like that, we miss the miracle given to us. The Immaculate Conception is a recognition of God's power and never ending desire to redeem us and give us everything that is good. Mary, born without the touch of sin is the miracle through which our Salvation arrives. This brave young woman who said yes to God, is the miracle through which the Christ Child comes and throws sin into a state of chaos and destroys it!
Thank you Lord for the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother!