By Msgr. Ray East
Genesis 3:9-15, 20 | Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12 | Luke 1:26-38
God destined us for adoption (Ephesians 1:5),
Happy Feastday, United States of America! Today is our national holyday because our country is dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Mary is chosen to be the “new Eve” and is conceived without original sin.
Contrast this possibility of a “Paradise regained” with the Genesis 3:9-15 tableau of Paradise Lost. If you can, go online and see Michelangelo’s “Creation” painted on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. Envision Adam and Eve, naked except for fig leaves, being banished by angelic guards from Eden.
Dr. David Allen, a Christian psychotherapist, calls this the starting point of eveil and violence in our world. We inherit Adam and Eve’s original shame (a term used nine times in Blessed John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body”) as they are driven from the garden of Eden. Dr. Allen’s work with people struggling with drug and alcohol addictions has led him to believe that this birthright of original shame is to blame for much of the violent dysfunction in our lives and in society. He uses God’s Word and psychotherapy in a powerful remedy for the effects of original shame in our lives. Like Luke in today’s gospel, he helps wounded women see themselves as Mary of the Magnificat, humble inheritors of the promises of God. Addicts, rediscovering their true nature before the Fall, exchange pain and shame for their adoption as God’s chosen through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3-12). Today, let us dry our tears and sing with Advent hope: “Sing to God a new song, for God has done marvelous deeds!”
REFLECTION: 1) What hidden shame weighs me down?
2) As a peacemaker, will I call others from shame into new life?
This reflection is from this year’s booklet, Unshakeable Belief: Advent 2013 and is available online here. Msgr. Ray East is pastor of St. Teresa of Avila parish in Washington, D.C. He was named Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace in 2005.
2 thoughts on “ADVENT 2013: Reflection for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, December 9”
The condition of injustice in the “original shame” requires our response if the story is to find resolution. Adam and Eve chose the posture of victims in the original scenario. God is portrayed as the original spiritual director, asking the questions to conscience: where are you? Who told you (about nakedness) ? And why did you do it (eat the apple)?
In an evolutionary or developmental perspective, human beings got stuck here in victim hood, passing the buck and blame to others. Mary as the new Eve, radically changes the scene, not hiding from God but facing her fears and embracing the ambiguity and mystery of sexuality, thus she is able to act as a fully human being, humbly sharing with God in the work of incarnation/creation/redemption with God.
Mary’s Immaculate Conception is a statement about her parents’ holy love making. Thru the guidance of the Holy Spirit they finally developed beyond the victim hood of shame and said “yes” to God and each other, thus empowering their daughter to do the same. The resolution of the story rests with our decision to follow that example or not.