Monday of 2nd Week of Advent--Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary

The Difference Between The Old and The New

Joke: “I once gave my husband the silent treatment for an entire week,” a lady shared. “What happened at the end of that week he declared that we’re getting along very well lately.”

Unlike the silent treatment that gave the husband a pleasant week, the silent treatment that Mary, the Mother of God, really rooted in her total obedience to God the moment she said yes to the angel. This total obedience to God really made her what the Catholic Church celebrates today the feast of her Immaculate Conception which means she “was preserved from all defilement of original sin by a unique privilege of grace in view of the merits of Jesus Christ” declared by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854. It is not about her virginity, but rather it is the moment of Saint Ann conceived her in her womb at her old age, Mary didn’t have any stain from the original sin. It is in God’s will that both Eve and Mary are brought into being. However, one is expelled from the Eternity, and the other is received back to the Eternity. How does it come about?

In the book of Genesis, a little bit before today’s first reading, there is a conversation between the serpent and Eve, as the serpent says to Eve, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” Sin begins with a forbidden law. You shall not do this, you shall not do that, lest you will be punished. Eve replies, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘you shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.” The devil is so smart and says, “You certainly will not die. No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” Has the snake told Eve the truth? Yes, but only half of the truth. After Eve ate the fruit, as it is described in today’s 1st reading, she didn’t die, neither her eyes closed. In fact, her eyes were wide opened that she discovered that she was naked and ashamed. Was she naked before she ate the forbidden fruit? Yes. But why didn’t she feel ashamed before she ate the forbidden fruit? The moment she allowed temptation overcame her, or the moment she disobeyed God, she experienced her nakedness, shameful guilt. However, the key question is: Had she become like God after she ate the forbidden fruit? Absolutely no. If we examined our life, at the moment of temptation, cheating, lying, smoking, drinking, abusing, lust and many other crooked ways of life, are these temptations only presented to us half of the truth? Just have a drink, for ex., it’s going to ease your pain, your suffering, your anxiety? Is it true? Yes. But what happens after the drunken moment? All the pain, suffering, and anxiety came back and haunted us again, isn’t it? It didn’t last that long, did it? This is a tricky game that devil played on Eve and perhaps to all of us.

Mary, on the other hand, the angel Gabriel said to her in today’s Gospel, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son … Son of the Most High.” The snake’s invitation to Eve to eat the forbidden fruit which is pleasing to the eyes, while Gabriel’s invitation to Mary is frighten to Mary’s mind and trouble to her heart. Unlike Eve’s response yes to the devil to go against God’s will and ate the forbidden fruit, Mary’s response yes to the angel by following God’s will.

Brothers and sisters, we are not animals with intelligence only. We are neither angels, but human beings with body, mind, & soul. Who are Eve and Mary? They are exactly like us, human beings. However, one responds with obedience and pondering to follow God’s will, and the other does not. One responds with humility and acknowledges the lowly creature of God, and the other does not. And above all, one responds to the Holy Will by surrendering her life completely to God as she said in today’s Gospel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word,” and the other does not. The questions then: Who are we in this walk of life if we are not human beings? As human being like Mary and Eve, how have we responded to God’s will? Eve disobeyed God that led humanity into destruction, Mary, on the other hand, saved humanity through her humility and obedience to God. Between these two women, whom have we identified ourselves with? Just as Mary reverses the sin of Eve by her total obedience to God’s will the moment she said yes to the angel, what have we done to reverse the sins that we have committed or to reverse what is our bad habit to prepare the temple of the Holy Spirit, our body, an immaculate place? Between the Old Testament and the New Testament, we are encouraged to follow the New Testament. Between the old Eve and new Eve, we are encouraged to follow the new Eve which is our Blessed Virgin Mary whom we celebrate her Immaculate Conception, the most pure human being unstained from sin. Between our past and our presence, we are encouraged to let go the past and move on with our presence toward the future which God’s grace and a total surrendering ourselves to God that we learned from the Immaculate Conception of Mary.


Weekday Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Thang Nguyen

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