Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(Vigil Mass, Dec. 7)
December 8, 2016 – Year A
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Readings: Gn 3:9-15, 20 / Psalm 98 / Eph 1:3-6, 11-12 / Lk 1:26-38
This morning, while the famous Holy Name of Mary Hymn Sing Ministry was singing Christmas carols at Oakwood Manor, one of the residents there whom everyone calls ‘Captain Jack’ reminded us of what happened on Dec. 7, 1941. Today is December 7, and, although I’m not much of a history person, I memorized this a long time ago because we were so close to where it happened: Exactly 75 years ago today, in a small island in the Pacific, the skies were aglow and there was ferocious activity, but it was not any type of celebration. The Japanese Imperial War Machine bombed Pearl Harbor. Twenty-four hours later, fires were still burning, men were being taken out of partially-submerged ships, and the shock of war had touched not only American soil, but that of all Allied countries – and that includes the country where I was born and raised: the Philippine Islands.
My grandfather, my uncles, and many of my relatives fought side by side with American soldiers throughout the duration of the war. Those were days of sadness, destruction, but also times of unusual bravery. The bravest heroes were often those who fought even though they couldn’t accomplish much. But they started and others followed, because, as my grandfather used to say, ‘Bravery is contagious’. Yet someone has to volunteer first. Just a footnote, for many of us here who are too young to remember what happened, the United States and her allies won that war.
Two thousand sixteen years ago, the world was also facing great crisis. A supernatural power was needed to straighten out life and make sense of human suffering. A brave person was needed to begin the process, an instrument chosen by God and made fit by Him through an Immaculate Conception; a courageous young woman who called herself the Maidservant of the Lord, and would say to God’s messenger, “Let it be done to me according to Your Word”. She has shown the rest of humanity what we have heard in today’s Gospel: that with God, nothing is impossible.
Mary knew from that day forward her life wouldn’t be easy. She had to take care of her child, who was the Son of God. She would eventually see him being insulted, ridiculed, mocked, and crucified on the cross. But she also had the privilege of seeing Him after He arose from the dead. Mary’s faith strengthened the Apostles and the early Christians, and it should also strengthen all of us, her children, and the followers of Our Lord in the 21st Century.
As we continue celebrating this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, let us ask the Blessed Mother to gently hold our hands as only a mother can, and guide us in the midst of our lives’ afflictions and trials. Let us ask the Lord Jesus, whose Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity we will receive in Holy Communion a few minutes from now, to give us the grace and strength that we may live openly as dedicated Christians. There may not be any visible war in our neighborhood that demands our bravery, but the war of Satan, inflamed by peoples’ pride, continues to saturate humanity. But we believe that, with God’s help, and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, we will be able to continue waving the banner of our faith, and ultimately win the war against Evil and Sin.