December 8, Feast of the Immaculate Conception
As we get ready for Christmas the Church gives us a beautiful reminder that God Himself prepared in the days before He sent His Son. He gifted the Blessed Mother with her Immaculate Conception, saving her from the effects of original sin at the very moment she was conceived in the womb of her mother, Ann. That preparation is a reminder to us. God didn't start out by choosing apostles, teaching them, and sending them out to the world. No, He began at the very beginning preparing the hearts and minds of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. St. Joseph himself revealed to Blessed Catherine Emmerich that he was saved from original sin immediately after his conception. So God prepared a holy home for His Son before Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb.
I think the message for Christians is that we need to be saved personally before we can evangelize others. How can we help to "remove the beam of sin" from the eyes of others, if we haven't repented of our own sins and sought God's forgiveness, especially in the Sacrament of Confession. How many of us are out saving the world while we ignore evil and faults in our own lives?
We are called to be witnesses to the world, but our witness begins with giving an example of repentance. In Advent especially we should listen to the call of St. John the Baptist, "Reform your lives." We cannot hear the good news if our own ears are ringing with the world's noise. We can't hear the angels' hosannas while we listen to the siren song of the evil one. We can't help others to see the truth if our own eyes are filled with images of heterosexual lust from the catalogues of Victoria's Secret and homosexual lust from the catalogues of Abercrombie and Fitch. In today's world protecting our eyes is more important than ever because evil is mainstreamed in mall windows, grocery store magazine racks, and on the Internet.
We need to pray constantly for protection and conversion. A good model for us is St. Augustine whose mother, St. Monica, pursued him literally and in prayer until he finally succumbed to the Hound of Heaven.
Pray the conversion prayer of St. Augustine today to prepare yourself to be a soldier in the army of Christ.