Thursday, 8 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church marks the occasion of the great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, solemnly commemorating the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in which we believe that Mary, the Mother of God, was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, free from any taints of sin, the taint of original sin that had affected every single sons and daughters of mankind from the very beginning because of our disobedience and refusal to listen to God. Mary has been conceived by the singular grace and special will of God to be free from this taint of original sin, just as He has once proclaimed to our first ancestors, to be the Woman through whom the salvation of this world would come from. After all, God is Almighty, All-Powerful, and that feat is clearly possible for Him.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words from the Book of Genesis detailing the moment when mankind, having chosen to listen to Satan, the great deceiver appearing to Adam and Eve in the form of a snake, and fell into disobedience and sin against God, was confronted by the Lord Who came to visit them, and asked them of their misdeeds. The Lord knew everything that they had done, but the two of them still tried to hide their misdeeds, and then later on blamed each other and Satan for what they had done. Regardless, God had to cast them out of Eden, the blissful home intended for all of us mankind because sin has no place before the perfection and holiness of God. But God did not do so because He despised or hated us. Rather, He despised the sins and wickedness we committed, while still loving us dearly as He has always done.

He promised us all the salvation through the Woman who will crush the head of Satan, the snake, the great deceiver and enemy of all the faithful people and children of God. That while Satan will indeed sink his fangs and entangle us in his many schemes and efforts to bring about our downfall and damnation, but in the end, he shall be defeated, crushed and overthrown. Satan, no matter how great or powerful he is, how mighty and fearsome he may seem to be, is nothing compared to the greatness and glory of God, Who is the Lord and Master of all. Even Satan had to bend the knee and submit to the Lord, and he will have to admit defeat to all that the Lord has planned for us all, the salvation that He has brought into our midst through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, born into this world through Mary, His mother.

To that extent, that is why we celebrate what we celebrate today, on this great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and the bearer of God Himself, Divine Word of God Incarnate, the Saviour of all the whole world. The Immaculate Conception of Mary is necessary because, God cannot possibly enter into this world through the means of sin, as perfect, holy and blameless He is. Hence, it is very important that the vessel of His entry and coming into this world, must be perfect and without any taint or blame, and that is why, God willed into creation, this most worthy of vessel, that is Mary herself, conceived by the grace and power of God, to be free from the taint of sin, and full of grace, just as the Archangel Gabriel proclaimed before Mary. Mary is full of God’s grace, the new Ark of the New Covenant.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary has often been compared and parallels been observed between the Ark of the Covenant of the times of the old days of Israel and Mary as the New Ark of the New Covenant between God and mankind. The old Ark was made from the finest materials, precious wood and metals, and with the finest craftsmanship, and becomes the presence of God on this world among His people. The Ark contained the Law of God as written on the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, the bread of the manna and the staff of Aaron, with which God has performed His miracles among His people during the Exodus from Egypt, leading them out as their Shepherd out of the land of their enslavement and miseries. The Ark also contained the ‘mercy seat’, the two Cherubim on its top upon which God would come down and sit enthroned on them, His Presence coming down to dwell with His people.

Then, in the same way, Mary is the New Ark, bearing the Saviour Himself, the Son of God, incarnate in the flesh, becoming the Son of Man. By the power of the Holy Spirit, as we heard in our Gospel today of the account of the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, God gave us all His Son, taking up our human flesh and existence, and He became tangible and approachable to us through this Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Who spent nine months in the womb of His mother Mary. Like the old Ark which was mentioned, Mary bore the Law of God, made whole and complete through Christ, Who came to fulfil and perfect the Law, and He Himself is the Law and its personification. He is also the Bread of Life, the One Who offered His Body and Blood for all of us, that each one of us who partake in His Most Precious Body and Blood, will have eternal life through Him.

Not only that, but Christ is also the Good Shepherd Whom God had sent into our midst, to be the One to lead us from this land of darkness and evil into the land of freedom and light. He bore the salvation of God into our midst and bring upon us the Holy Presence of God dwelling among us, as Emmanuel, ‘God is with us’. Therefore, as we can clearly see, Mary herself is the New Ark, of the New Covenant that Christ our Lord, her Son, made with us, between God and us all, through His works, His suffering and death on the Cross, and His glorious Resurrection from the dead. If the old Ark was made from the finest materials and was considered holy and sacrosanct, it is only therefore right that Mary must also be holy, hallowed, pure and sacrosanct, and sin cannot be allowed to defile her. Hence, God crafted her and prepared her well to be the bearer of His Son, the Saviour of the world.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice and celebrate in the commemoration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, the bearer of Our Lord and Saviour, the New Ark of the New Covenant, we are all reminded that this same Mary is our perfect role model and example in her piety, her obedience to God and in her inspiring actions, in dedicating herself wholly and completely to the mission that was entrusted to her. Mary did not allow the temptations of sin and evils of the world to taint her, and remained full of grace and fully obedient and filled with love for God all throughout her whole life. Mary dedicated herself to love her Son and brought Him up patiently with love. Then, she continued to show her care and love for us all, when her Son entrusted each one of us to her care, that she became our mother and we become her sons and daughters.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect upon our own lives and be inspired by the examples and inspirations set by Mary, the Holy Mother of God, our beloved mother, who have watched over us, prayed for us and guided us to her Son. She showed us all the existence of life that is pure and immaculate, free from sin and full of the grace of God. All of us too can enter into this state of grace, if we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord just as Mary had done, in answering God’s call, to follow Him as His faithful servants and disciples. What we need to do is to focus our attention and efforts that we may truly be ever worthy to be called followers of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. Are we willing to make the commitment and effort, brothers and sisters?

Let us all hence seek to be ever closer to the Lord, following the path and the examples set by His mother Mary, our mother and guide. May the Lord continue to guide us as well and remain with us, that in all the things we say and do, in all of our actions and interactions with one another, we will always be ever more and more faithful to the Lord, and be willing to commit ourselves to the missions that He has entrusted to us. May He bless us in our every good works, efforts and endeavours, now and always, evermore. Holy Mary, Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception, conceived without the taint of sin, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Thursday, 8 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Thursday, 8 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 1 : 3-6, 11-12

Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, Who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in His presence.

From eternity He destined us, in love, to be His adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling His free and generous will. This goal suited Him : that His loving-kindness, which He granted us in His beloved might finally receive all glory and praise.

By a decree of Him, Who disposes all things, according to His own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory.

Thursday, 8 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Thursday, 8 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 3 : 9-15, 20

YHVH God called the man saying to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?”

The man answered, “The woman You put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.” God said to the woman, “What have you done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

YHVH God said to the serpent, “Since you have done that, be cursed among all the cattle and wild beasts! You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.