December 8, 2018
by Colleen Chiacchere
Creighton University's Magis Teachers Corp
click here for photo and information about the writer

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 689

Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Psalm 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Luke 1:26-38

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Pope Francis on this feast in 2014

Praying with Jesus in the Womb
Elizabeth Remembers
A Parent Reflects on Joseph & Mary

Among these long winter days and short days in the Northern Hemisphere and certainly here in Omaha, life can seem bleak and cold as we head into the depths of winter.  And, in the midst of this dark stretch, the Church gives us the gift of moments of brightness, with numerous saints feast days and liturgical celebrations. Today is one of those special days. These ‘lights’ help point us to the light of Jesus’ incarnation in just a few short weeks.

Today, December 8, we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  Mary is conceived without sin, nine month prior to her early September birth, to make her an appropriate dwelling place for when she’s pregnant with her son, Jesus.  She is like us in every way but sin – the daily actions and habits that block us from growing closer to God and being more human. 

I have been learning a bit more about Mary these days as I learn more about Jesus and God through a class on the Spiritual Exercises in Creighton’s Christian Spirituality Program these last several weeks.  One of the more remarkable components is the setting to which she was born.  She was among the lower rung of the peasant class trying to farm a small plot of land while also trying to navigate the demands of carpentry.  It was a difficult existence to be poor under Roman dominion in the first century.  And, being pregnant out of wedlock was a quite a marginalizing situation for her to be in, too.  Plus, she gave birth in a foreign place and finally made it back at some point during Jesus’ childhood.  I think Mary sometimes gets a reputation for being a lovely innocent maiden (which she is!) who so easily just said yes to God request.  Life had to be easy and simple for her, (right?), as the one chosen Jesus’ mother. But, life was hard for her, I can imagine, and that makes her “yes” even more impressive and admirable.  It certainly speaks to a disposition that resisted complaining about the difficulties of her life, especially as she said “yes” to something she likely didn’t completely understand.

As a mom of two little ones, I’ve found myself in conversation with Mary about all the juggling that a working mom does.  Certainly my life in 21st century United States entails different daily struggles than hers.  But, the invitation to listen well to God’s request and trust in his guidance for big and small events in our lives is the same for all of us.

I invite us today to pray with our Pope in the prayer below.

Pope Francis’ Prayer for the Immaculate Conception.

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