The second Sunday of Advent this year falls on the same day as the date for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Although the celebration of the feast is moved to Monday, the theme of Advent – an anticipation of the coming of Christ – nicely draws our attention to the familial relationships through which he first came into the world. In today’s Gospel, the cousin of Jesus, St. John the Baptist speaks the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord”. Just as he is the first to recognize Jesus in the womb of Mary, he announces to the world that salvation is at hand.
But the Immaculate Conception is not about the conception of Christ, rather, it is about the conception of his mother, Mary, in the womb of his grandmother, St. Anne, and points to the future salvation which is to come through her son. We don’t often think of Jesus as having a grandmother and grandfather, but that is who Anne and Joachim were. The recognition of Mary’s sinlessness from the moment of her conception by the Church also conveys an important teaching about the moment when life begins, and the sanctity and dignity bestowed upon humans from that first moment of conception.
Even more, the feast acknowledges God’s purposeful action toward Mary, from the very first moment of her life. God chose Mary to be the perfect Mother for the Savior Jesus, created without sin in the womb of her mother St. Anne. At Mary’s conception, God was already preparing the world for the Incarnation of his Son within her virginal womb. At her conception, God’s plan for our salvation is made clear: her obedience to God’s will is what will undo the disobedience of Adam and Eve.
Give thanks to the Virgin Mary for saying yes to life, for it was from her virgin flesh that our Savior was born! Give thanks to our Blessed Mother Mary if you follow after peace, since from her is born for you the peace which surpasses all understanding. If you pursue justice, gives thanks to our Blessed Mother, for at the opening of her womb justice looked forth from heaven.
During this special time of the year, may St. Anne, who bore the Blessed Virgin, Our Immaculate Mother, may Our Lady, who waited in long anticipation for the birth of her son, and may St. John the Baptist, who announced his coming even while still in the womb, pray for us as we too prepare for the coming of Jesus.
Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception, pray for us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, pray for us.
Did you know?
From the moment of conception, 46 chromosomes with 30,000 genes combined to determine all of the baby’s physical characteristics: his or her sex, facial features, body type, and even the color of hair, eyes, and skin. At the moment of conception, the baby is already essentially and uniquely his or her own person. Although no bigger than a grain of sugar.
For the next four weeks the embryo (the baby) will develop rapidly. From one cell to millions of cells, the baby will have grown 10,000 times over, until he or she is over 1.5 inch long. The brain, spinal cord, nervous system, and digestive tract will be established. By three weeks the heart will start beating. Then arms, legs, muscles, eyes and ears will begin to form.
From the book Mother with Child: Spiritual Enrichment During Pregnancy by Annette Marian