Advent 2016

Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8th

Gn 3: 9-15, 20 // Ps 98: 1-4 // Eph 1: 3-6, 11-12 // Lk 1, 26-38

These readings are extraordinary, touching us at the core of our being. Much could be said but we might focus on the nature of the “yes” and the “no” in the readings from Genesis and the Gospel of Luke.

The story of the fall is so well-known that its depths are often not known at all.  In the story of creation we have the recounting of God’s primordial “yes” that brings all things into being, with the special glory of the human being in God’s image and likeness. The first primal “yes” of God is to be met with the second, responding “yes” of the human being. In the story of the fall the “yes” of the human being is indeed a “yes” to divinity but, answering the serpent’s temptation, it is in the form of our own becoming divine. The “yes” to self-divinization becomes a “no” to the order of God. Our “yes” to self-divinization becomes a “no” to the order of creation and produces the disorder of creation and our entry into sin.

In the story of Mary there is the “yes” of God, communicated by the angel, not insinuated by the serpent. The “yes” is to a new creation in which the Word of God is to be conceived and born in the deepest fleshed intimacy of the woman. There is again the allowance of a responding “yes,” in this case the “yes” of Mary full of grace to the grace of the first “yes” of God. Divine “yes” is offered to her and her “yes” meets the divine “yes,” and in a mysterious way completes and fulfills it.  The tempting of the serpent promises divine glory and delivers travail and shame. The angel announces glorious promise, and the promise is delivered in the Christ child. Eve the mother of all the living becomes Mary the mother of God in the redeeming intimacy of extraordinary incarnation.

William Desmond
Philosophy Department