Daily Reflection
December 8th, 1999
Kathy Kanavy
Institute for Priestly Formation
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The Feast of the Immaculate Conception 
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Psalms 98:1-4
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Luke 1:26-38

Today we celebrate the feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, a day to reflect on the conception of Mary who was free from sin through the grace of God.  Although so much can be said of Mary, let us pause to consider just one simple-and profound-aspect:  her heart.  Who is she?  How could she say, “Yes!” to conceive the Son of God?”  What does she have to say to us in our struggles?

Our first glimpse of who Mary is comes through today’s Gospel of Luke, the Annunciation.  We often hear in the familiar story how Jesus came to be born incarnate; but what do we hear when we listen to what Mary’s immaculate heart says?

"(The angel said), ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence, the holy offspring to be born will be called Son of God.  Know that Elizabeth your kinswoman has conceived a son in her old age; she who was thought to be sterile is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible with God.’  Mary said, ‘I am the maidservant of the Lord.  Let it be done to me as you say.’”
What do you hear in her heart?  Surely, faith, trust, …and utter receptivity.  How could she say, “Yes!” to such a confounding mystery? 

Let me suggest that her “Yes” came out of saying “yes” to God’s desire for her everyday.  Consider these words from Jean Corbon in The Wellspring of Worship

 “Mary has carried the Word long before conceiving him and has learned the self-giving of him whose whole being is consent to the Father.  She has been fashioned by the Spirit and sees without realizing it that the most fruitful activity of the human person is to be ‘able to receive’ God.”
Mary can say “Yes!” to such a confounding mystery and can be so vulnerable because she has “received” the love of God each day.  From knowing this God of love by receiving His love for her, she “knows” in her heart that He will provide.  This truth in her heart is what she teaches us how to receive God.

Receiving God.  For us, the idea sounds shocking.  We know that as Christians our lives must be spent in serving others; we know in our culture that so much depends on doing, accomplishing, achieving, earning and making it all happen.  Even our identity can subtly be attached to accomplishments.  To receive God, then, suspends our categories and causes us to wait, to see, to hear.  How is God coming to you and me this day?  Where do we look?  Like Mary, we look in the ordinariness of today:  in the love you feel in your heart for your wife, husband, son, mother or friend; in the knowing look of understanding between you and a treasured colleague; in the “coincidence” of running into someone you have been thinking about; in the beauty of the sunset; in the assurance found in prayer in the midst of incredible difficulty.  This ordinariness holds far more than nice feelings; it holds the very mystery of Jesus incarnate, God with us.  Out of this ordinary receiving God, we know in our hearts the truth of God’s lavish love, a love that permits us to reach out to others in great compassion and generosity.

So, how is God loving you today?  Will you permit yourself to say “yes”, to receive and to savor His love?  Let us ask Mary to teach us how to receive His love more each day.

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