Feast of the Immaculate Conception

12-06-2020Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Family,

Peace and Joy in Our Lord Jesus!

In his book about Jesus’ birth, Pope Benedict wrote: “I consider it important to focus on the final sentence of Luke’s Annunciation narrative: ‘And the angel departed from her.’ The great hour of Mary’s encounter with God’s messenger – in which her whole life is changed – comes to an end, and she remains there alone, with a task that truly surpasses all human capacity.”

What a haunting image! A young girl with the burden of history on Her shoulders sitting in the darkness of the night. How frightened She could have felt -- how frightened and utterly alone.

It’s compelling to think of this in the context of the Immaculate Conception, when we celebrate Mary being conceived without sin that would prepare Her for Her special mission to be the Mother of Jesus. It wasn’t that Mary wasn’t redeemed of course. She was just redeemed more perfectly than us--by the anticipated merits of Her Son’s suffering and death to prepare Her for Her mission.

This singular woman, alone at the moment of the angel’s visit, is also alone in history. There is no one else like Her. And, like no other, She devoted Herself to God. Her life became a prayer, totally focused on God and His unique calling for Her.

In Luke chapter 2, the evangelist writes simply that Mary “kept all these things in her heart.” There’s no account of Her sharing Her feelings or fears with others or writing down Her life story. Instead, Her life became an ongoing conversation with Our Lord. And in that dialogue, we realize, that Mary, was never really alone after all. The angel’s words to Her from today’s Gospel say it all: “Hail, Mary. The Lord is with you.”

How often those words must have given Her strength and hope. And so they should for us, too. When we remember how Mary came into being, and Her uniqueness – how She was and remains THE Immaculate Conception – we remember, too, that She is “our life, our sweetness and our hope.”

We remember that Mary has been where we have been. She experienced difficult times. And She walks with us and reminds us that Our Lord is with us.

At any moment, during Her life, Mary may have felt a sense of isolation—that She was utterly alone in a harsh and unforgiving world. But how many times did She find strength with this memory: The Lord is with you. And how many times did She hear again and again, in the face of overwhelming impossibility: “Nothing is impossible with God.”

And that, I think, is one of Her great gifts to us—to encourage us to trust, to inspire us to hope, to offer us the faith-filled reassurance that our lives are not lived in isolation. To all who might feel alone, to all who might feel helpless or hopeless, to those who might be worried or frightened about the future…Mary is there. The reassuring words to her, “Do not be afraid,” are now Her words to us.

This week we remember Mary. And, we ask her to remember us during this difficult year. Our faith assures us that She will. Despite how things seemed, Mary was never entirely alone… and neither are we.