The Gospel reading for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is Luke 1:26-38.

Having announced the miraculous conception of John the Baptist to the elderly Elizabeth and Zachariah, the Archangel Gabriel now appears to the young virgin Mary (a young teenager); a virgin is prophesized to bear the Messiah (Isa 7:14). Mary is betrothed (in Jewish tradition, married but still living separate and celibate) to Joseph (most likely in his late 30’s), who is of the kingly lineage of King David; the Messiah is prophesied to be born to a descendant of David (2 Sam 7). Both are from Nazareth, a disrespected backwater town in the rural Galilee; Nazareth is prophesied to be where the Messiah will live (Isa 11:1; Matt 2:23).

Gabriel, the magnificent angel who resides in the presence of God, stunningly and reverently addresses Mary, not by her name, but by a title, “Full of Grace”, meaning God has already graced Mary with Divine Life (she is the Immaculate Conception) and is a worthy vessel for God to Incarnate. Gabriel greets Mary with the phrase, “The Lord be with you”, the same greeting given to God’s great warriors (Moses, Gideon, Joshua) at the time of a great task. What is this great task? Gabriel tells Mary the Son of God will be conceived in her womb and she shall name the child, Jesus, meaning “God saves.” Jesus will establish the promised never-ending Kingdom of God.

Mary is greatly troubled, but consoled by the Archangel. Gabriel urges Mary not to be afraid and that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her, allowing her to conceive the Son of God. “Overshadow” is the same language used when God’s presence overshadows the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle in which God resides during the Exodus (Exod 40:35); Mary is the New Tabernacle in which the Son of God will reside in her womb. Mary, the Immaculate Conception, offers the perfect response in her fiat: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to Your word.”

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ instructs the Archangel to announce His coming birth to His Mother, who He created specifically to carry Him; the third person of the Trinity causes Mary to conceive. Divine Prophet, Christ inspires Old Testament prophets to speak of His future birth.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) The mysterious and tremendous power of God is beyond human imagination. Marvel at Christ’s mind-bending acts: He creates and inspires Isaiah to prophesize of His Incarnation; He conceives Mary to be the Immaculate Conception, to carry Him in her womb; He sends the Holy Spirit to allow Mary to supernaturally conceive…Himself!

2) Because the Immaculate Conception was born without sin (CCC 490-493), the Blessed Virgin Mary is the only human who has ever perfectly heard and done the God’s will. Reflect on the perfection of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Perfect Obedience (CCC 144, 148-149, 490, 494, 2617) and pray for the Blessed Virgin to pray for your continual conversion and that you grow in obedience.

3) In Mary’s fiat, we learn that those who hear and do God’s will are “blessed.”  During Advent, reflect on God’s Will (CCC 51, 294-295, 541, 2059, 2822) and the Responsibility of Free Will (CCC 1730-1748) and ask for the Immaculate Conception’s prayers to help you more completely hear and do God’s Will.