I’m sure many of us pray the Hail Mary daily, most likely as part of the Rosary. And so we daily say to our Lady: “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”
Earlier today I got a call to give the last rites to someone at Calvary Aged Care. I went through the prayers with the gentleman and his daughter. I anointed him. I blessed him. We prayed the prayers for the dying. And then he died. His daughter told me that she had not known why he had been hanging on, but that when she was speaking with her mother this morning, her mum had asked: have you called for a priest?
This man had been waiting for the sacraments. I don’t know whose Hail Marys had kicked in for this man, but it is obvious that someone’s had. He died on Immaculate Conception. He died having received all the healing power of the Church, given to us by Christ. He died safe in his mother’s arms.
Imagine the responsibility. Imagine how serious it must be to be the mother of the Church. Think of the concern that the best of mothers has for her children. Now multiply that infinitely. Infinity by infinity. Literally incalculable. And this is in addition to being asked to be the Mother of God.
This is one way to think about our feast day today. No-one is up to this task. No-one, that is, unless God wills it. God willed that Abraham should be the father of many nations, and so it was. God willed that Moses should liberate God’s people and so it was. God chose prophets to proclaim God’s word and so they did. God chose John the Baptist to go ahead of the Lord. God chose 12 men to become his Apostles. But above all, God chose Mary to be the Mother of God and Mother of the Church.
This is what we celebrate today. That God chose Mary and in choosing Mary made her immaculate, made her fit to be the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, made her able to give God back her perfect humanity so that Jesus could be perfectly human as well as being perfectly divine. God chose her to be her Son’s greatest disciple and together with her Son our greatest intercessor.
We see in this feast then the great promise of God, a promise made in the act of creation and a promise remade, doubled, made more profound in our redemption by Christ on the Cross. The promise is God with us, Emmanuel. The promise is God with us, Mary, full of grace. This is the promise that God in choosing us has not chosen accidentally. God chooses us in love, and graces us in love and calls us in love that we might know and share God’s love.
This is the Good News. We are chosen. We are chosen not because we are better. We are chosen so that we might spread the Good News to others who do not know that they too are chosen. To others who do not know that because they are chosen that they belong. To others who do not know that they belong and their home is love. And they have a mother who loves them, who constantly intercedes for them and wants them to be safe, to be happy, to be part of God’s family.
And so we must spread the Gospel. We must love our neighbours so that they too know they are chosen
But are we up for the job? Our answer to this question must be the answer of our Lady. God chose her to be the Mother of God, the most stunning of all vocations. Mary responded that if that is God’s choice, then she would obey. She believed that God would work marvels for her. God’s Word is enough for her.
This then is the most dazzling version of the truth of predestination, freedom and grace coming together. Mary was given all she needed for this most supreme of tasks. We therefore give thanks that God chose her for this honour through which we all have been saved.
Let’s pray then that after the intercession of our Lady that we might know the choice God has made for us and share this good news with the world.