“Advent creates people, new people.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Today, we celebrate the Immaculate Conception. We recall that the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin at her conception. This was done so that she would be a worthy vessel to carry the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It did not mean that she would be forced to bring the Lord into this world. That was still her free will choice.
We often talk about being created anew. When we say that, we generally mean a turning away from sin in thought, word, or deed and a turning toward the Lord. We think about leaving behind choices that are not as good as they should be and becoming more holy. This is a lifelong process and one that involves a lot of sweat, blood, and tears.
Turning away from sinful ways is not easy. Those sinful ways, while free will choices, have become habits. We all know how important it is to develop good habits and how difficult it is to break bad habits. Thank God that we have been given examples of what it means to live good, holy lives.
Mary and the saints provide those examples. We all have a favorite saint. Those saints are our favorites because, in many ways, they are probably a lot like us in temperament or in desire. Many of the saints were rough around the edges in their earlier lives and God’s grace gave them what they needed to become the models of virtue and courage that they became. We often think that if they could change, we could, too.
Mary is a great example of a humble handmaid who said yes. She did not understand fully what Gabriel said to her. She certainly did not see what her yes would entail throughout the remainder of her life or in the life of her Son. All she knew was that she was God’s handmaid and if God was asking her to do something, it would be embraced and accomplished. Consider saying yes to God today.
FAITH ACTION: On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, ask God to give you the same grace and humility that Mary had to say “yes” to God’s will.