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Daily Reading

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reading I Gn 3:9-15, 20

After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
    “Because you have done this, you shall be banned
        from all the animals
        and from all the wild creatures;
    on your belly shall you crawl,
        and dirt shall you eat
        all the days of your life.
    I will put enmity between you and the woman,
        and between your offspring and hers;
    he will strike at your head,
        while you strike at his heel.”

The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.

Responsorial Psalm 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

R.    (1)  Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
    for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
    his holy arm.
R.    Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
    in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
    toward the house of Israel.
R.    Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
    break into song; sing praise.
R.    Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.

Reading II Eph 1:3-6, 11-12

Brothers and sisters:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him. 
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.

In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.

Alleluia See Lk 1:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Saint of the Day

 

Daily Inspiration

Sheep on Shoulders

In today’s parable, Jesus holds up a gentle image of the love of God for each one of us. A love so great that it leaves the 99 who seem to be holding their own in order to go in search of a single one who went astray.

Why did the one stray from the flock? Was he confused, or belligerent, or determined to seek something outside of the pasture? Was he lured away, dragged away, coerced away? We don’t know, and it doesn’t seem to matter. The shepherd does not ask why the one strayed, so we need not either; it is enough to know that sheep stray. But we might ask, as a point of reflection, why the shepherd goes out to search for it!

In purely practical terms, one lost sheep is not a big deal. After all, 100 sheep is a lot, but 99 is almost as many. The economic value of the flock hasn’t been affected; a 1% loss is factored into these calculations, surely. And isn’t leaving the 99 a bit of a risk? They need shepherding too. They are at risk too. And yet he leaves them in pursuit.

Not only does the shepherd leave the 99 to go in search of the one who strayed, when he finds it he rejoices MORE than over the 99 who did not stray. Again, we might ask: Why?

The answer is always LOVE. The shepherd knows and loves each sheep personally. When one sheep strays, the shepherd knows it is in danger, it is suffering, it is in peril of eternal death. And love does not allow one who loves to remain complacent or use superficial cost-benefit calculations before deciding to act. Love acts. Love always has the good of the beloved in view, and not the personal cost. Love pours itself out for the good of the other. And the Shepherd pours Himself out for the good of each and every sheep.

When we stray, Jesus knows that we are in danger, we are suffering, we are in peril of eternal death. And so, no matter why we have strayed, he uses every means to reach out to us and bring us back. As Pope Francis said in a General Audience (5/4/16): “In Jesus’ vision there are no sheep that are definitively lost, but only sheep that must be found again. We need to understand this well: to God no one is definitively lost. Never! To the last moment, God is searching for us.” What a consolation and assurance for us! And when this Truth sinks into our being, we can assure others who have strayed that God is holding out His forgiveness.

“God never tires of forgiving us… Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love” (Evangelii Gaudium, 3).

We are borne on the Shepherd’s shoulders. That is the Good News.

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Fiore Bagatello, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/12007-oveja-perdida