Discovering Life's Purpose: from the Moment of Conception

(December 8 2021)

Bottom line: Like Mary God has a plan, a purpose from the first moment of our existence, the moment of conception..

This Advent and Christmas I am giving a homily series on Discovering the Purpose of Life. As we celebrate Mary's Immaculate Conception, we recognize we have a purpose from the moment of conception. Jeremiah heard God say, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. I set you apart..."

We see that in Mary. The Angel says to her, "Hail, full of grace." The Greek is kecharitomene. It's a one of a kind word. It is sometimes translated, "most highly favored daughter." It is preceded by the word, chare, hail! That was the greeting soldiers gave to the emperor. Hail Caesar!

The angel's greeting indicates that God has a plan for Mary from all eternity. She was conceived like you and me from the union of a man and a woman - her parents Joachim and Anna. But by a singular grace she was immaculately conceived - without original sin. What does that mean?

Well, in the first reading we see the results of original sin. Adam hides from God. Because of his sin, he wants a life, an existence apart from God. When God confronts him, he refuses to take responsibility. "The woman whom you put here with me she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it." Eve is not much better, "The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it."

God, however, does not abandon us. We see a small hint, " 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.” You will notice in statues of May, it will often show her foot on the serpent's head. Her yes to God begins to reverse the damage done by our first parents.

This of course is poetic/symbolic language, but it describes the reality of our human history. A sad reality with wars that not only affect soldiers but civilians - women, children and the elderly. History is a sad story of abuse - the strong instead of protecting the weak, wind up taking advantage of them. This terrible history began when our first parents turned away from God, committed that original sin that has been snowballing ever since,.

We try to fix things on our own. We dream about creating heaven on earth, but we wind up creating even worse hells. The truth is we cannot do it on own. We need God. So God entered human history - first by forming a people of his own, the Jewish people. Then out of that people he chose maiden to become his highly favored daughter, full of grace. Mary has a unique purpose - to bear God in her womb. That purpose began when God chose and formed Mary from the moment of her conception.

You and I hardly have so grand a purpose. But God did chose each of us from the moment of concept. He formed each of us in a unique way. If I can use a personal example. For reasons I do not understand I am shorter than my brothers, I began going bald at about age 20, and I had the tendency to develop an abdominal aneurysm. All that and much more was there at the moment of conception. What looks like blind chance actually is part of a mysterious plan. The same applies to you. Like Mary God has a plan, a purpose from the first moment of our existence, the moment of conception. St. Paul expresses it this way:

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.


Spanish Version

From Archives (Second Sunday of Advent - Year C):

2018: Second Advent Virtue: Generosity
2015: Are You Missing Out? Week 2: Mercy with Justice
2012: The Day of Christ Jesus
2009: Connect with the Ocean
2006: The Affection of Christ Jesus
2003: A Pregnant Woman's Dream
2000: Take Off Your Robe of Misery
1997: They Confessed Their Sins

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Summer - Kings and Prophets*

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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Kurt Nagel (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru