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Hail, Mary!

Today marks the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, our celebration of Mary's freedom from original sin from the moment of her conception. In the first reading, we see Adam blame his consumption of the forbidden fruit on Eve, showing the influential power of femininity.

While he's likely attempting to shirk blame, it is certainly true that Eve held influence over Adam! We also see God set the framework for a healthy, righteous relationship between man and woman.

In the second reading, we see Paul lay out for us the many blessings that the Lord has bestowed on humanity, especially His plan for salvation. This is appropriate for today, as that plan is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus from His sinless mother, Mary. Paul also reminds us that we "exist for the praise of His glory."

Finally, in the Gospel, we see Gabriel announce to Mary that she is to be the mother of God. Despite her shock at this extraordinary proposition, we hear Mary's "fiat," her complete acceptance of whatever God has planned for her. While she can't comprehend how she, a virgin, could bear this child, she completely submits to God's calling and enjoins His will with her own.

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." May we strive to follow Mary's example this Advent, and surrender to the Lord's working in our lives.

Regis O'Neill

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