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When the Fiat is a Fight

December 8, 2020   Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lectionary: 689)

Reading 1   GN 3:9-15, 20
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with meC
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.

Responsorial Psalm   PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4
R. (1) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.

Reading 2   EPH 1:3-6, 11-12
Brothers and sisters:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.

Alleluia   (See LK 1:28)
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   LK 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

By Maddy Bass 

My grandma shares a birthday with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. For many reasons, this day is a day of celebration, rest, and reflection. The love and devotion my grandma had for the Blessed Virgin was unlike any other. In fact, when I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the second grade, my grandma gifted me with a beautiful little figurine of Mary. I was upset, thinking that my first confession was deserving of candy or toys, not a miniature statue of a woman I hardly knew.

I cried the rest of the day, not yet knowing the impact our Mother would have on my young life.

In today’s Gospel, we read about what we know as Mary’s “fiat”, her resounding “yes” to the Lord to conceive of Jesus, son of God. But, the feast of the Immaculate Conception tells of Mary’s own perfection, being free without sin from the moment of conception.

In life, I have considered two possible options for my future self: assume a perfect life or fail. There was no other option that would suffice the dreams I had laid out for myself and my journey with Christ.

This idea of perfection existed all throughout my childhood. I remember days spent with my cousin, painting and drawing in coloring books to exchange with each other. I carefully outlined each shape, coloring inside the lines in one direction and paying close attention to make each drawing look as neat as possible. My cousin, on the other hand, scribbled across the entire page, coloring a princess’ hair purple and skin tone lime green. My colorings were a reflection of who I wanted to be to others. From a young age, I held these powerful expectations of what was good or perfect and I sought out this control, even in prayer. 

In high school, these patterns extended into strict diets and extensive exercises. I idealized certain body types and shapes, doing everything I possibly could to achieve the unachievable. The most imperfect place in my life, home, taught me to make perfect the other areas in my life that I could control, including my body image. 

I found myself giving my yeses to people, things, and the world to define me as beautiful rather than giving my yes to God that would make my soul beautiful.

God doesn’t just want me to surrender the bits and pieces of my life that are bad, or the bits and pieces of my life that are good. He wants it all. And Mary gave Him everything she had: her fear, her innocence, her youth, her joy, her consent. She chose her fiat over her fear. So, what is it that I am holding back? 

To understand Mary’s “yes” is to witness the hardest yet most transformative “yes” anyone could ever give. Her consent to the Incarnation through her Annunciation allows us right now, here on this earth, the freedom to chase Heaven. As the angel came to her, God triumphed over any fears she encountered.

Looking to Mary’s first fiat, I see myself being written into this narrative of hope that invites me to also say “yes” to God without restraint or the expectation of convenience, comfort, or perfection, but with full permission to let God into my heart even in the midst of fear.

While Mary was a saint, she was also fully human. I can’t look at Mary, even in her perfection, and ask “why can’t I be her?” Instead I must look to Mary for her example, that because of her yes to God, I can also say yes too.

If I am constantly punishing myself when I fall or say no to God, I am not wholeheartedly leaning into the opportunity to let Mary be my mother of protection.

In my littleness as a child of Mary, I need her guidance the most.

Just like my grandma, I am learning from the protection of Our Mother that I’m not supposed to be perfect as the world claims it, but to be a saint. I’m called to choose sainthood over perfection.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Maddy Bass is a simple gal with a big childlike heart. As a full-time Communication Studies student at the University of San Diego, with a passion for social and restorative justice, she strives to be a bearer of the Good News in the digital age. She is always on the hunt for stories worth sharing, underrated coffee shops, thrift store deals, and opportunities to be intentional. Find out more about her here.

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