Tonight, Patrick and I headed over to Holy Trinity Catholic Church to celebrate the the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Yeah, it's a holy day of obligation (or holy day of opportunity, as some call it), and some people think it's a hassle... blah, blah blah. But it happens to be a favorite of mine. And only partly because I get to sing all the "Mary songs."
I literally got goose bumps as the lector read the readings and I followed along in the book. The first readings was the story of how Adam and Eve failed. That story has always felt so eerie to me. I think of how it would feel to be them. They were the only two humans ever created and God was basically their only family. There was no one else. They didn't just disappoint their father when they disobeyed and ate the apple... They disappointed THE Father. Their mistake changed EVERYTHING. That's pretty heavy stuff when you think about it. And then it made me take a quick look at myself. Shoot! I mess up all the time and its usually more serious than eating something I shouldn't!
Then came the Gospel. It was the story of the Angel Gabriel. Now, but yourself in Mary's sandals. You are roughly 14 years old, betrothed, a virgin... and an angel shows up and tells you you're gonna be preggers with God's kid. The angel even helps you out a names God's son for you. The story is mind blowing even if you DON'T put yourself in her sandals. Can you imagine? Here I am in my twenties, married without kids and I would still be like... yeah, that can't be right.
Mary was made perfect though (hence her nickname, The Immaculate Conception). God planned for her to carry Jesus before she was even born. SHE WAS CONCEIVED WITHOUT ORIGINAL SIN! That alone just blows my mind! She was the most perfect person that has ever lived. She was conceived inside the womb of a saint (Saint Anne (which kinda makes me wonder who Saint Anne's parents were... does anybody know?))... and she miraculously conceives Jesus through the Holy spirit....
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...
for nothing will be impossible for God."
And her simple, obedient, perfect and holy response...
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.
It almost brings tears to my eyes. This is what it is all about. I'm not gonna sit here and say we should fire Santa and Rudolph and the elves and toss out our Christmas Trees, but I do think it is time for me to refocus. Honestly, Jesus (and Mary and Joseph) IS the reason for the season... as cliche as it may sound to some :)