Immaculate Conception Blessed Virgin Mary Readings

Sunday Connection

Sunday Connection

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. The Sunday Connection provides useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.


The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saturday, December 8, 2018


Today's Readings


First Reading
Genesis 3:9-15,20
God confronts Adam and Eve after they have eaten of the tree forbidden them by God and curses the serpent for his action.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 98:1,2-3,3-4
Sing to the Lord for he has done wondrous deeds.

Second Reading
Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12
In Christ, we were chosen to be adopted children of God.

Gospel Reading
Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, and Mary responds, “Let it be done to me as you say.”

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast celebrates God's choice of Mary to be the mother of Jesus. God preserved Mary from the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception. Thus, Mary was the first to receive the benefit of the redemption that her Son would merit for all.

To reflect upon this mystery, the Gospel reading for today presents to us the story of the Annunciation. It is through her exchange with the angel Gabriel that Luke, the Evangelist, introduces the person of Mary. The Annunciation begins in the context of Luke's account of the birth of John the Baptist. “In the sixth month,” referring to Elizabeth's pregnancy, the angel Gabriel appears to a virgin of Nazareth—Mary. Indeed, there are many parallels in Luke's accounts of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.

In this passage, Luke tells us much about Mary and the child she is to bear. We learn that Mary is a virgin from Nazareth who is betrothed to a man named Joseph, who was of the house of David. The angel greets Mary in the most glowing of terms, acknowledging the favor she has found with God. The son Mary is to conceive is described in messianic terms. He will be called “Son of the Most High” and the “Son of God.”

Mary is bold in her exchange with the angel. She is troubled by his greeting and questions the message, asking “How am I to bear a son if I have no relations with a man?” Mary is told that she will conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit and is offered a sign in the miraculous pregnancy of her elder cousin Elizabeth.

Mary's affirmative response to this seemingly impossible message gives evidence to the grace we know that she possesses from God. Only one who is “full of grace” can be so receptive to and cooperative with the will of God. Because of this, Mary is the model of discipleship for all Christians.


Gospel Reading
Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, and Mary responds, “Let it be done to me as you say.”


Making the Connection (Grades 1, 2, and 3)

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to tell Mary that she would bear a son through the power of God and that he would be called the Son of God. Mary, because she was “full of grace,” was able to say yes to God. We can be disciples, like Mary, when we say yes to God.

Materials Needed

  • An image or work of art that depicts the Annunciation

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show the children an image or a piece of artwork that depicts the Annunciation. You may find such a picture in your religious education book or in a children's picture Bible. Invite the children to look at the picture carefully.

  2. Ask the children: Whom do you see in the picture? What do you think is happening in this picture? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Say to the children: The story behind this picture is found in the Bible. It is part of the story of how Jesus was born. It is the Gospel we hear on a very special day in our Church, a holy day called the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day on which we remember something very special about Mary. Let's listen to this Gospel and see if we can discover why Mary is so special to us.

  4. Read today's Gospel, Luke 1:26-38.

  5. Ask: What do we hear in today's Gospel? (how the angel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would be Jesus' mother) What did Mary say to the angel? (First she asked how this could happen, and then she said yes, let it be done to me as you say.) Why do you think that Mary is so special to us? (She said yes to God. She was Jesus' mother.)

  6. Say: Mary was chosen by God to be Jesus' mother and that is why we honor her by celebrating today as a holy day. We remember how Mary was able to say yes to God, to be Jesus' mother. We can be disciples too when we say yes to God's plan in our lives.

  7. Conclude by praying together the Hail Mary.


Gospel Reading
Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, and Mary responds, “Let it be done to me as you say.”


Making the Connection (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to tell Mary that she would bear a son through the power of God and that he would be called the Son of God. Mary, because she was “full of grace,” was able to say yes to God. We can be disciples when we say yes to God like Mary did.

Materials Needed

  • Chalkboard and chalk or newsprint and markers

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the group: What do we know and believe as Catholics about Mary, the mother of Jesus? As the group offers their answers, prepare a list on the board of all acceptable answers.

  2. Say: Today is a special day in our Church year. We remember and celebrate that Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. It is called the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On this day we recall that God protected Mary from all stain of original sin from the moment of her conception and life in her mother's womb. Let's listen to the Gospel for this holy day to hear what Mary was able to do because she was “full of grace.”

  3. Invite three volunteers to read today's Gospel, Luke 1:26-38. Assign one volunteer to read the part of the narrator; the second volunteer reads the words of the angel; and the third volunteer reads the words of Mary.

  4. Ask: How did Mary first respond to the greeting of the angel? (She was "troubled;" she asked how this could be possible.) What does Mary finally say to the angel? (I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be as you say.) Do you think it was easy for Mary to respond in this way? Why or why not? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  5. Say: Mary is a model of discipleship for us because she said yes to God and cooperated with God's plan by becoming the mother of Jesus. We honor Mary because she is the Mother of Jesus and our Mother as well. We pray that we will be like Mary, open to God's call and willing to cooperate with whatever is God's plan for our lives.

  6. Conclude by praying together the Hail Mary.


Gospel Reading
Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, and Mary responds, “Let it be done to me as you say.”


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people in this age group are conscious of who is connected through friendship. They understand that the right connections can help people succeed. The Gospel for the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary reveals that Mary has a very special connection to God.

Materials Needed

  • Index cards
  • Pens or pencils

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Tell the young people that some people benefit from having connections in high places.

  2. Invite them to imagine to whom they wish they had a connection.

  3. Distribute index cards to the young people and have them complete the following sentence: I wish I knew someone who… (Example: I wish I knew someone who could get me a backstage pass to my favorite singer's concert.)

  4. When the young people have finished, invite volunteers to read aloud their cards.

  5. Point out that Catholics think of Mary as someone who has a privileged connection to Jesus and that, in our prayers, we often ask Mary to help us grow closer to her son, Jesus.

  6. Say: The Gospel for the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary tells us the story of how God called Mary to accept a special role.

  7. Invite volunteers to read aloud Luke 1:26-38.

  8. Ask: How did Mary first respond to the greeting of the angel? (She was troubled; she asked how this could be possible.) What does Mary finally say to the angel? (“I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be as you say.”) Do you think it was easy for Mary to respond this way? Why or why not?

  9. Say: Mary is a model of discipleship for us because she said yes to God and cooperated with God's plan by becoming the mother of Jesus. We honor Mary because she is the Mother of Jesus and our Mother as well. We can grow closer to God through Mary because of the special place she has in relationship to Jesus.

  10. Conclude by praying together the Hail Mary.

 


Gospel Reading
Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, and Mary responds, “Let it be done to me as you say.”


Family Connection

To be chosen by God for a particular task is an awesome thing. That is why we honor Mary, the one chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. Yet we believe that each of us is chosen by God in particular and important ways, and each of us is given gifts and talents by God to share with the world. One of the tremendous responsibilities of parenting is helping our children determine the gifts and talents they have to share with others to serve the reign of God.

As a family, identify some of the gifts and talents that God has given each person in the family. Talk about the ways in which these gifts and talents might be used in the service of others. Recall that Mary was given a special task by God. Read together today's Gospel, Luke 1:26-38. Reflect upon Mary's humble response to God's call. Pray as a family that each person will be like Mary and respond to God with a resounding yes by using their gifts and talents to serve others in both large and small ways. Conclude by praying together the Hail Mary, or perhaps pray a decade of the Rosary, reflecting upon the Joyful Mystery, the Annunciation.