St. Stephen Catholic Church, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
A reading of the holy Gospel according to Luke 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 the 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 ofthe 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.
Years ago, I had an Anglican friend. A very good friend. I credit him with forcing me back into the Bible in a deeper way. He loved to argue. He loved to argue about religion. And unfortunately, he usually won the argument because he knew more about my religion than I did.
But I am haunted by our conversation about the Blessed Virgin. He said although he admired her, he would never pray to Mary. He went on to blast the Rosary - he said we prayed to Mary for the forgiveness of sins. He said that the Rosary was not scriptural. I knew enough to argue that point. I told him that the Hail Mary could be found in the Gospel of Luke. But that was the only thing I could speak to. I have wanted to write him a letter to describe how very scriptural the Rosary is, to go, point by point, through every prayer and reference it back to the Bible. I have composed this letter in my mind many times. But then I have wondered if I would just be trying to prove a point - and therefore prove that I am right - or if I am truly trying to show him something wonderful. And hence, I have not written the letter.
But I am grateful this morning that I get to go to 6:30 a.m. mass. It is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. And I won't have to argue with anyone at mass. But I know I will still be thinking about that letter...