Today as we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (1: 26-38) in which the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to Mary.Merciful God,I pray for the openness to receive you as you enter my life today.May my mother, Mary, intercede for me, and show me what it means to allow you to come to birth in my heart and life.We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fr Paul continues to read from the ‘Heart of the Disciple’ resource which asks us to consider the following: There is no one like you; not even close. Some people may appear very similar, until you get to know them, and then you quickly realise how amazingly unique we all are. In today’s reading we encounter someone who is so unique as to be called ‘the Mother of God’. The account begins with God sending his messenger, and as we read the account, it gets more and more specific. He sent the angel. Where? To a town. A town where? In Galilee. Which town in Galilee? Nazareth. To whom? A virgin. Which virgin? One who is engaged to a man named Joseph. Which man named Joseph? The one of the House of David. And what was her name? Mary. Luke gives such a beautiful description of the way in which God refines everything down more and more in order to encounter us as individuals. Can you imagine what your own being singled out by God would look like? Beginning with ‘God sent an angel’, and ending with your full name, what does that singling out look like? Yet that is what God desires to do. He desires to single us out and come to meet us, no matter who we are or how far we feel we are from him. All of our unique traits and quirks are part of what God loves about us and God desires to speak to us and love us in that individuality that makes us human. Nothing about who you are, what you’ve experienced and what you’re capable of is a surprise to God. He is able to meet you there in it all. Like the good Father Jesus understood him to be, God wants to give us the time and attention we need in order to know who we are as his sons and daughters. God’s love for us is not dependent 0n what we do, but on who we are. Like Mary, we are all singled out by God and pursued, and his messengers are being sent to seek us out. This little resource, we are using, may be one such messenger. There will be others, if we are but alert to them. Let us ask today that we have the hearts of faith necessary to receive what God has for us. For our reflection and discussion, the uniqueness of the experience of Mary ironically has implications for each of us. While she alone is the Mother of God, she shows us that we are called to receive Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives. Spend some time contemplating in response to the exercise outlined above: God sends his angel…he wants to speak to me (what does he say?), to eat with me (how does he do that?) and walk with me (pray for the grace to see him and respond to him). “The close connection between Mary, the Church and each member of the faithful… has been beautifully expressed by Blessed Isaac of Stella: ‘ …In a way, every Christian is also believed to be a bride of God’s word, a mother of Christ, his daughter and sister, at once virginal and fruitful'” (EG, 285). And today we pray: