Reflection by Tom Cummins, a parishioner
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
It has been a couple of weeks since Thanksgiving and a few more weeks to go before Christmas. Both of these holidays are special times calling for a dinner with table cloths, real cloth napkins, candles, and the “good dishes.” Festive dishes for those foods to be enjoyed in community with family and friends.
As a child, I thought we were eating as a king would eat. The candles were magical, and a great roasted turkey filled with dressing rested on a large well-and-tree platter (retrieved each year from a shelf in the basement). There was even a gravy boat and matching containers for sugar and cream. Fancy! Unique! Extraordinary!
Don’t we also do the same thing for Mass? We gather in community for a most wonderful meal, the Eucharistic Banquet. On the altar – spread with a cloth – we see our parish’s “good dishes,” gold chalices and gold bowls to hold the source of our spiritual nourishment: the Body and Blood of Christ. Pure and spotless vessels holding the meal Jesus has prepared for us.
It seems a dogma of our Catholic faith, The Immaculate Conception celebrated today, reflects our belief that God the Father had a similar thing in mind in preparation for the Word made flesh. That divine intrusion into human history would call for a very special vessel, pure and spotless, to hold and present for us the body and blood of the Son of God, Jesus. God chose Mary.
Mary, immaculately conceived, free from sin, and ready to be called. And when her call came to bear the Son of God, Mary responded, “May it be done unto me according to your word.” [Luke 1:38] But bearing a child was not all Mary was called to do. She was also called to provide a family filled with the love, support, and encouragement Jesus would need to be prepared for his mission here on earth.
Our own baptism cleansed us from sin. In that sacrament we are prepared for receiving the Body and Blood of Christ along with the grace to hear and understand our call. This Advent let us take the time to find those silent moments when the Holy Spirit moves our hearts and calls us forth to be a loving presence in our own lives and the lives of others.
+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.