A thought for today’s feast of the Immaculate Conception
God chose Mary at the moment of her conception for a life and a mission that was beyond what anyone had previously thought possible or even imagined.
Mary was a bit puzzled by the invitation. “But how can this be” she asked. The answer was clear: “nothing is impossible for God.” (Today’s Gospel)
Like us, Mary’s childhood was spent within an environment formed by strong presumptions, expectations and limitations. Such cultural programmings are often formed by fear. Mary understood that God was calling her to greater love and she realised that this would involve letting go of the fears that provided an (albeit superficial and fickle) bond with her family, friends and the wider community.
The direct action of the Holy Spirit on Mary at the moment of her conception saved her from inherited (Original) sin, and enabled her to live (before Christian Baptism was instituted) the harmony and intimacy with God that we are offered today in the Sacrament of Baptism.
It is easy for us to ignore the opportunity that the grace of baptism offers us to live in relationship with God, each of us showing a unique and original dimension of the image of God. But we don’t like to put our heads above the secular mentality. Instead of becoming saints (which is our baptismal opportunity) we live as photocopies, doing similar employment in similar ways, seeking tangible measures of success. When we do this our goals are uncreative. We end up striving to drive the same cars and planning to vacation in the same resorts.
Yet we laugh at the teenagers who plead for a mufti day at school so that they can have the freedom to dress however they choose, yet on the appointed day when they arrive at school they look remarkably uniform!
Perhaps we have never really understood that the stressed existence that most of us think is a normal part of life on earth is not the way things have to be. There is a way out, and it’s not about holding on until the weekend or hanging out for a pay increase or a change of boss.
And the great news is that this change is not only possible, it is available. Adam & Eve lost sight of the fact that they were dependant on God for their happiness and instead grasped at satisfaction that seemed promising but immediately disappointed.
It’s the story of our lives, isn’t it? Yet our experience tells us that this way of living is not really a life at all. It’s more of an existence never delivering what the depth of joy and peace the advertising and popular opinion promises.
We ignore the glimpses of hope-filled originality that are ours when we move apart from the crowds.
And for us it can seem impossible to make any change. We’ve tried before and failed slipping back into the common mentality…
- Become aware of how you would like your life to be more satisfying, more real, less superficial and programmed. Enjoy the new desire that emerges in you.
- Allow to come to mind situations in your life and with those you love that you wish were different. Perhaps there are burdens you are carrying of insecurity, anxiety, or worries about health or money.
- Now take as your mantra today, praying as a prayer the reminder: “Nothing is impossible for God.” If I were to offer this invitation as a prescription I would say take three once every hour from now until Christmas.