Dec 8, 2015

Mary, full of grace and God's great mercy

Pope Francis opens the Year of Mercy:

The Scripture for 12/8

Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you.”  The greeting of the Angel Gabriel to the young, very likely teenage girl named Miriam, is so well known to our Catholic ears that we may miss its deep implication.  We pray this in the very Catholic prayer the “Hail Mary” which begins with those exact words taken from the Gospel of Luke we hear in Mass today, Luke 1: 26-38. 

The Angel greeted Mary not by calling her name but by recognizing her state of soul.  Imagine if a good friend came to you and said, “Hi, friendly man” or “Hello, generous woman.” I think we’d find it a little strange and might ask, “Did you forget my name?” 

In fact, the Gospel tells us that Mary found it to be unusual as well.  She, “Pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” As if Mary said, “What’s this all about?”  So, we know the appearance of the Angel was totally unexpected by Mary.  She had no forewarning that it was coming.

But, the state of Mary’s soul, her pure and immaculate condition through a singular grace given her by God, was as it should be.  While the greeting of the Angel was clearly for Mary alone, she also becomes for us not only a spiritual Mother but also a model.  Not a model in the sense of some sort of beauty contest winner but a model of what we are all called to be in this life.  We are all called to reject sin, Satan, all his power and influence over us and to embrace and live our faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

While Mary was preserved from that wounded soul which we inherit through Original Sin and I assume was not attracted to reject God’s will and choose our own way over God’s (sin) she offers us the model for daily life; a life lived for and centered upon God’s will and his will alone.

We battle for this daily as we know the three sources of temptation: the world, the flesh, and the devil.  But, when we fall, we face not a condemning or heartless judge in God.  We face a God of mercy and forgiveness.  And so, this December 8th the Church begins to celebrate that great Mercy of God as Pope Francis has called the Church throughout the World to be not afraid of God in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. 

 The year will bring many opportunities to celebrate this great truth of God’s mercy that today’s Solemnity of Mary visualizes for us. God comes among us in Jesus for one reason – our salvation brought about because of love. When is the last time you went to confession?  It might be time to find there this God of great mercy who calls us all to conversion. 

"For you preserved the Blessed Virgin Mary
from all stain of original sin,
so that in her, endowed with the rich fullness of your grace,
you might prepare a worthy Mother for your Son
and signify the beginning of the Church,
the beautiful Bride without spot or wrinkle.
She, the most pure Virgin, was to bring forth a Son,
the innocent Lamb who would wipe away our offenses;
you placed her above all others
to be for your people an advocate of grace
and a model of holiness."

(From the Preface of the Day)