The Miracle of the Ordinary
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Genesis 3:9-15, 20 ; Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4 ; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12 ; Luke 1:26-38
The Lord has made His victory known.
Psalm 98, 2
I wish more were done to eliminate the confusion between today’s Feast Day – which commemorates the conception of Mary – and the Feast of the Annunciation, when we recall the conception of Jesus. I suppose the fact that the Church uses the same gospel readings on both days doesn’t help matters, but there are very different lessons to be drawn from these two very different events.
In the case of the Annunciation, God chose to begin His own human life in a unique and miraculous way. Not so with Mary. Mary entered into life in the same familiar and ordinary way that the rest of us did. On the face of it, nothing happened to cause believers to marvel or to cause non-believers to scoff. In fact, when we think about today’s Feast Day, we realize that Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, conducted themselves in the same manner couples everywhere behave when it comes time to build a family.
It is this ordinariness, I believe, that makes this Feast Day so compelling. God saw fit to bring perfection to an activity which – at least from the typical ‘religious’ point of view – people are likely to regard lightly. Joachim and Anne, like any couple, were with each other when their daughter began to develop, but I wonder if God gave them a glimpse of the victory He was winning by creating for Himself a Living Tabernacle.
Jesus has been called “the second Adam”. If this is a fit title for him, then certainly Mary can be called “the second Eve”. Eve is mother of us all in the natural sense; and Mary is our mother in the spiritual sense. Eve was flawed; but Mary is perfect. Eve represents what we were because of sin; Mary gives us an example of the obedient servant God wants us to become. We ourselves are the ordinary women and men to whom the Lord wants to make His victory known. What a surprising, and wonderful plan God has executed!
Author of Redemption, nothing in us is too commonplace to be regarded by You. Keep us mindful of the fact that all our actions find their fulfillment in Your grace.