The Immaculate Conception of Mary

[Mass for the school children.]

Today’s readings | Today’s feast (more)

Immaculate ConceptionI know that I could ask you all what holiday we are getting ready to celebrate and you’d all tell me… But what do we call the season of the Church year that we are in that helps us get ready for Christmas? That’s right, Advent. Advent is a time that reminds us that God’s promises to us will always be fulfilled.

Advent is a time that we can see how dark our world is. Since it comes in winter, the days are “shorter:” there is less daylight and sunshine than we have in the summer. The days are also colder. This makes us think about how dark and cold our world can sometimes be. When we see war and crime and people hating one another on the news, the world looks darker. And even closer to home, when we hurt our family or friends or don’t act the way we should in school or in Church, our hearts can look darker and colder.

But the Good News is that God has promised that none of this has to stay that way. God has also promised that we don’t have to worry about changing it all on our own, because well, we can’t. God has promised us a Savior: Jesus Christ, who would come to our world and lead us back to the warmth and light of God’s presence, where we were always supposed to be in the first place. During Advent, we are waiting for God’s promise of a Savior.

And there’s still more Good News. During Advent, God gives us some special people to help us in our waiting. Those people remind us of God’s promises and direct us back to thinking about how much God loves us. One of those special people is the Blessed Virgin Mary, and today we celebrate her feast day.

Today we remember that Mary was always special. In order to be the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, she would have to have been a very good person. Today we celebrate that God made her special even before she was born; God made her special all the way back to the very beginning. Because of that, she was chosen to be Jesus’ mother, the one who would give birth to him and raise him as a child.

And we know how special Mary was as a mother. Even when she had no idea how she could become the Mother of God, she said, “I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.” She gave birth to Jesus in a very lonely place. She raised him and helped him to become a strong and wise man. She followed him as a disciple and stood by him, even when he was nailed to the cross and died for all of our sins. After he rose from the dead, she stayed with the first Christians and helped to spread the Word about her son. Finally, at the end of her life, Jesus took her up body and soul into heaven, because he would not let death touch someone who was so special to him.

And the Good News doesn’t stop there. Because Mary was so special to God, she shows us how special we are to God. As we celebrate God’s love for Mary today, we can also celebrate his love for us. Mary got to hold her Savior – the One God always promised us – in her own arms. When those of us who are old enough come to Communion today, we will be able to hold our Savior – the one God always promised us – in the palm of our hand. Mary’s life was brightened when Jesus was born. Our lives will be brightened too, this Christmas time, and every time when we make room in our hearts for Jesus.

Winter can be a dark and cold time, and we can see lots of darkness in our world and feel coldness in our hearts. But Advent always reminds us, with the help of special people like Mary, that God will always keep his promises. God promised Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus because by the power of God, she was special. God promised us a Savior and he sent us his only Son. God promises all of us that we too can be his special people, and he will fulfill that promise just like all the others.

Today, we pray with Mary’s help, “Come, Lord Jesus!”