My Dear Sisters and Brothers! What did make her so susceptible to the word of God brought to her by Gabriel? The solemnity we observe today comes as the answer to the question. She was the Immaculate Conception. From the first moment of her life she was preserved from the original sin and consequently from any sin. Pay attention to how the angelic visitor addresses her. Before he says her name which we all know: Mary, he uses her proper name, the name she is known by God: “Highly favored” or as we say it so often in Hail Mary “Full of grace.” In 1996 St John Paul II speaking to the pilgrims in Rome reflected that the words of the Archangel were: “Grace filled.” Mary’s sinless state was of God’s making. And it was for a purpose, for the plan of salvation which was beginning to unfold in a wonderful way.
Contemplating the passage of today’s Gospel we are taken back to the time when the People of God after leaving Egypt were given the Tablets of the Ten Commandments which Moses placed in the Ark of the Covenant. Then Moses and his people built the tent of meeting and the tabernacle where they placed the Ark of the Covenant. They did it all at God’s orders but the final touch, the most important touch, was done by the Almighty himself: “The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” That moment brought heaven and earth together as the Most High chose to dwell among his people, to guide and guard his children. We read in the Exodus that the cloud abiding upon the tent of meeting was an indicator for the people to go forward or to stay. They adjusted their “travel itinerary” to the movements of God.
Grace Filled whom we meet in the Gospel today becomes the New Tabernacle for the New Covenant while at the same time she is the first disciple, the first follower of the Son of the Most High, Jesus. Her words: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me” reveal to us how much she is adjusted, with faith and love, to the moments of God.
We celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. We are at awe while pondering Mary’s sinless life. We are also drawn to her Son: Jesus, by virtue of whose Death she was preserved from every stain. Seeing her moved like the ocean after an earthquake we hope that her intercession can help us to grow more and more susceptible to the movements of God, to be moved by God’s grace which is given to us in the Sacraments, in the Word of God, in good inspirations, in remorse, so that you and I can convincingly treasure and share that, as St Paul put it in our Second Reading: “Before the world was made, God chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence….to make us praise the glory of his grace.”