Luke 1:26-38 For No Reason
You know it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason!
And so the saying goes in New Jersey. A group of atheists have paid large sums for a large billboard outside the Lincoln Tunnel. They claim they are targeting “closet” atheists as part of their Christmas season campaign. So, just before passengers entire the dark tunnel, they can get a feel for what life would be like if there were no reason for it.
“Are you envious because I am generous” (Mt 10:25). Today, we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is, from the moment of her conception Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin. The proclamation, made over 150 years ago, is defined in the following terms by Pope Pius IX:
"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."
I spent many years defending this dogma of faith. It does not mean that Mary could not sin. It does not mean that Mary was not free to sin. It does not mean that Mary earned this grace or did anything to deserve it. It means what it says. The dogma is supported by the Bible, reason, liturgical practices, the ordinary teaching of the Church, the historical veneration of the Immaculate, testimonies of the Catholic world, the Council of Trent, the Church Fathers, the Annunciation, the comparison between Mary and Eve and other Biblical figures.
But what is the fundamental reason for God being so generous to Mary and not to us? In my opinion there is NO reason. Children have the best way of expressing it, "Because." And believe me, it wasn’t a good enough reason for me for many reasons, but now it is. I perfectly understand how the Lord wishes to give his graces to whomever he wishes to. The Lord wishes to give to Mary this singular grace not because she deserves it, but because he does, just like in the Parable of the workers in the field. Are you envious because I am generous? Do I need to give a reason for my love?
We are all accustomed to giving for a reason. We heard it in that terrorist song as children: “He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake (or YOUR OWN SAKE!!!)” Yes, a terrorist at its worst. J
To give for a good reason is good. To give for no reason is better. Does there have to be a reason for me to love someone? Not for God. Mary is beautiful because she is loved. God is awesome because He loves for no reason. This season, love for no reason.
Does Cinderella love Prince Charming because he's good looking? Does Prince Charming love Cinderella because she is beautiful? If that's the case, forget that there is even a moral to this story.
Does the Lord love us because he has to? Is there a reason why? Is it because we are beautiful? Good? Deserving of his love? No. There is no reason for his love. Again, that's what makes Him so amazing!
Last year I told my students to write love letters to their parents. It turned out to be a total flop. They came back complaining because none of their parents believed them. That is, that they wrote them out of love and not out for something! “What do you want?” [Parents]. “Just your love!” [The kids]. “You’ve never wanted just my love. You’ve always wanted my money!!!” [The Parents]. And so it goes. Love rejected for no good reason.
A young man was in adoration when he heard the Gospel passage of the adulterous woman. He had just found out a few days ago that his mother had been unfaithful to his dad. He had asked God to give him a sign, a grace, an answer to his prayers, and the Lord did. I am sure that some of the other kids in adoration were asking the question, “Why did our Youth Minister pick that reading”, were just in Middle School. It made no sense, at least to them. But to him it did.
Sin makes sense. Love does not. Sin is for a reason. Love has no reason. The Lord loves because he does.
This season, let us give without any reason. Let us imitate the Lord for his giving. Let us imitate the Lord in His Love. Hail Mary, full of grace, pray for us!