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Dec 8, 2020

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 abundant beyond what anyone had previously thought possible or even imagined.

Today’s feast is the celebration of this beginning of the life of Mary. However it’s appropriate that the gospel reading for the feast focusses us not on Mary’s beginning, but on her role at the beginning of the earthly life of Jesus who is God-with-us.

The scene is well represented in art and literature: a young Jewish woman, perhaps busy with morning routines, unexpectedly confronted with a messenger from God informing her that she was to become the mother of the “Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.”

Mary was puzzled, not resistant or dismissive, but curious: “But how can this be” she asked. The answer was clear: “nothing is impossible for God.”

Mary’s childhood (like ours) 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 with 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 receive 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 calling) 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,

So we are ready for some life-changing invitations…

  • 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 before every meal or cuppa, with an extra on waking and another before sleep from now until Christmas. (remember Mother Teresa’s “Good Morning Jesus” … – (from Sunday’s post) and add “nothing is impossible for you.” Bedtime prayer: “Good Night Jesus…Nothing is impossible for you“.


  1. Thanks so much Fr John for the inspiration and insight the Holy Spirit gives you. His words are sinking in and give hope and refreshment where it is sorely needed. Thank you Fr John for your words and encouragement. N

    • Not the first time God has supplied the ink to your pen and landed on a discussion that is so appropriate at this time. As one who has a tendency to hold on for the weekend, Christmas, change in management etc its a reminder of who we really work for and the real process for making things happen. Thanks for the reminder that God is my change merchant.

  2. Oh, how easy it is to get side-tracked! Thank you for your gentle reminder to “reset the compass!” Nothing is impossible for God! Amen! Amen!

  3. Thank you for this very thought provoking reflection. I will certainly take up your “prescription” for the “nothing is impossible” mantra.

  4. This morning’s teaching is packed with so many great and challenging possibilities to reflect on. This one is a pearl to keep thank you John. It pressed many buttons.

  5. today’s morning Mass was a special with a Gloria and a Creed. I was reminded in the readings of the amazing modern painting you uploaded to FFF of the Annunciation; So inspirational

  6. Thank you.This is spot on for me Have been struggling with an unresolved, seemingly unsolvable heart rendering historical issue and am t

  7. Amen

  8. Father John, what a thought-provoking reflection today. The impossibility of something is impossible for God.
    The most obvious example, of course, is the eucharist where God turns the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. This is only observable through the mind and eye of faith. The mundane mind and eye can see nothing.
    We also have the parable Mark 10:25-27, where Jesus is telling people that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. He was asked “who then can be saved ” Jesus replied “for a man, this is impossible but not for God”
    This of course begs the question, who is a rich person?
    I will make a better effort to fulfil your prescription Father John.

  9. Focus. Thanks, fr. John for this reflection. This focus is the “come Holy Spirit, come through Mary.”


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