Today as we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary, our thoughts take us back to two other principal Marian events. Her assumption into heaven and, of course, Christmas.
The tradition of her assumption is based upon her having been conceived free from original sin in the womb of St. Anne. In other words, based upon the fact of the Immaculate Conception.
This extraordinary privilege finds its rationale in Mary's own motherhood. In other words in Christmas.
You see Mary's life was totally Christ centered. She was the perfect disciple...the perfect servant of God.
But for all of that she was no less a woman. Indeed she was a strong woman who even as a young girl was not to be trifled with.
When the angel revealed to her that she had won the big prize dreamt of by every young Jewish girl...that is, to be the mother of the Messiah, she did not dissolve in tears like some newly proclaimed beauty queen. She responded coolly and logically, "How do you expect me to get pregnant when I am not even married?"
We all know what she was then told and of her subsequent complete and humble acceptance of God's manifest will.
It is precisely on her obedience that I would have you focus.
We do not need to be social scientists to know that there is a crisis of authority in our culture. Obedience is not generally seen to be a virtue as much as a weakness.
Families, the government, the churches are all struggling to redefine authority so as to avoid chaos and serve the common good.
I think Mary has something to teach us all. She was obedient. There can be no doubt about that. But the angel did not deny her the right to ask questions. God did not and does not demand "blind" faith ..."blind" obedience and Mary, for her part, made it very clear that, once adequately informed, her priority was not her own preference, but rather the common good as perceived and expressed by lawful authority, "Be it done to me according to YOUR word."
And so, you see, even God, the ultimate authority, does not demand mindless acquiescence, and nor should we in our exercise of authority in the family, the parish, the school, on the streets in the workplace...wherever.
And finally, Mary most honourable and deserving did not focus on her own preferences but upon the common good and so should we in our response to authority.
"Hail Mary" etc.