Monday, December 8, 2014

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Today's Mass Readings - December 8, 2014 with Reflection

1ST READING - Genesis 3:9-15, 20
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the Lord God then called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” 11Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” 12  The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me — she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” 13 The Lord God then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?” The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” 14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. 15 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 his heel.” 20 The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.

P S A L M - Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
R: Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; his right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm. (R) The Lord has made his salvation known in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. 3He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel. (R) All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise. (R)

2ND READING - Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Brothers and sisters: 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. 11 In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, 12 so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.
Luke 1:26-38
26 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” 35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.


Catholic convert Scott Hahn narrated an exchange he had with a professed atheist. One day, he was lecturing on the philosophical proofs for the existence of God. After the talk, an avowed atheist spoke up and said, “Professor, if God did not exist, we would invent Him anyway.” In response, Scott Hahn remarked, “If God does exist, we would invent atheism anyway.”

       What do we make of the atheist’s remark? For him, God was just an invention of the human mind, an infantile projection of human insecurity, of man’s inability to cope up with the mysteries of life. What do we make of Scott Hahn’s reply? Now, why would we invent atheism? It is because we do not want a demanding God. We do not want a God who will challenge us or tell us things that we do not want to hear. It would have to be a convenient God, who will never make us feel uncomfortable or bring us out of our comfort zone. That is the God of atheism. And that is no God at all.

       Mary, in today’s Gospel, is a corrective to the modern-day attitude of rebelling against a God who can make us uncomfortable. We have heard the Gospel of the Annunciation countless times, yet sometimes we fail to appreciate how disturbing it was for Mary. With the revelation that she was to be the Mother of God, her life was turned upside down. Surely she must have been branded as a lunatic with her claim of a virginal conception. Her reputation must have been besmirched. She was put in real danger of being stoned to death, were it not for Joseph’s selfless sacrifice of not exposing her to the Law. In the face of all this, Mary’s response was, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to Your Word.”

       What can we learn from Mary’s openness to the Divine interference in her life? God comes to us not only to make us feel good; He comes to make us good. And it is only after being good, that we shall genuinely feel good about ourselves. Being good entails a decisive choice of the good over the bad. That will entail purification, purgation, a dying to one’s self. And that is difficult. Therein lies the beauty of Mary, the Immaculate One! Fr. Joel Jason
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Describe your brand of Christianity. Is it the cafeteria brand where you only choose to follow those things that appeal to you?
Today, make this prayer your own: “Lord, if I am disturbed, comfort me. But when I am too comfortable, disturb me.”

Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.

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