SINLESS VESSEL

Immaculate Conception   

            I know that some of you wear the Miraculous Medal. You may not know that it really is the medal of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Inscribed on the Miraculous Medal is the prayer: (together we pray) “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.”

            What this means is that Mary was uniquely blessed by God, filled with grace from the very first moment of her conception. Today’s Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception occurs in Advent because it points us very clearly toward Christmas. Ang Immaculate Conception ay bahagi ng paghahanda ng Diyos sa pagsusugo ng kanyang Anak. Naghanda ang Diyos ng immaculate, sinless vessel na magdadala sa kanyang bugtong na Anak. At ito nga’y ang Mahal na Birheng Maria.

            Today’s gospel reading is about the announcement of the birth of Jesus. We hear Mary speaking a word of obedience to God: “May it be done to me according to your word.” And with those words the healing of the human race begins – as God becomes flesh deep within her body.

            Mary carried Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. By virtue of our Baptism, we are also carriers of Jesus – carriers of the light of Christ.

            Indeed, this Light is calling us to become more and more filled with light and to labor to bring this light to those who are still in darkness. To those who could hardly find meaning and direction in life and who are going through a lot of difficult struggles, may we bring them the light of Christ by empathizing with them. To those who are experiencing brokenness due to a crisis at home – death of a family member, separation, divorce, financial difficulty – may we bring them the light of Christ by comforting them. To those who are being driven to despair – thinking that nothing new or nothing good could still come out of their situation – may we bring them the light of Christ by giving them hope. To those who are gripped by sadness because of what’s happening in their career, job, business, love life, and family life, may we bring them the light of Christ by offering them joy. To those who are suffering because they feel weak and powerless, or because of illness, mental anguish or spiritual darkness, may we bring them the light of Christ by praying for their healing. This is how we become Christ-carriers, Christ-bearers or Christophers.

            What Mary has in her favor is something that each of us also has in our favor – namely, the grace and love of God. Tulad ni Maria, ang bawat isa sa atin ay pinagpala (blessed by God)… hinirang ng Diyos na makasama sa kanyang dakilang gawain… piniling maging instrumento ng pagpapala ng Diyos sa mundo. Just like Mary, we are also called to take part in God’s work of salvation. We, too, are called to incarnate Jesus… called to bring forth Jesus to the world… called to make the kingdom of mercy, compassion, and love a concrete reality in the lives of people, especially, the least, the last, and the lost. In the darkness today, we too are called to be lanterns of Christ.

            We can make the light of Jesus overcome the darkness of our world, not because of our own strength, but through the grace of Christ that surrounded Mary from the start, and is at work within us now. The highest honor we can give Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is to imitate her faithfulness and obedience to the Father, her closeness to the Son, and her receptiveness of the Holy Spirit. Let us honor Mama Mary by carrying or bringing the Light of Jesus.

            Every time we open the doors of our hearts to the lonely or the sad, to the wounded or the broken, to the rejected or the unloved… every time we reach out a hand to feed the hungry, to help the poor, to defend the weak, or to save our environment… every time we forgive someone who wronged us or hurt us and do good to that someone, no matter how painful… a light shines in the darkness of our world because we bring the Light of Jesus. This is how our Advent waiting becomes meaningful and fruitful… and this is also how we enable our sisters and brothers “to wait in joyful hope” for the coming of the Lord Jesus.

            Together we pray: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.”

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