December 9, 2017
Today we celebrate the wonderful feast of the Immaculate Conception. We believe that, through the grace of God, Mary was kept free from the taint of original sin from the first moment of her conception. Although she was conceived in the normal way, Jesus alone being the subject of the virgin birth, Mary was not corrupted by the tendency to sin from which every other human being suffers. All this was achieved through the power of God, and in many ways can be seen as the dawn of the reality of salvation in our human history.
Mary’s whole life is a living out of this initial singular grace. She is the one who responds completely to the Holy Spirit when he announces that she is to be the Mother of God. She is the one who whole heartedly hears the message her Son preaches. She is the one who is completely united to him in his suffering and death on the cross. In her Assumption Mary shows what glory awaits all the saints.
And that is why Mary is so important. She is the first of Christians and the best of Christians. She shows us what we are called to be and also helps to be that new creation.
May Mary Immaculate, conceived without sin, pray for us today and always. P.D.
December 4, 2017
The celebration of ‘Xmas’is well underway: the shops are urging us to spend our reduced real incomes, celebrities pontificate about their ‘perfect day’, and the office party season is about to kick off. In many ‘Xmas’ is a fitting name for all this as by using the anonymous ‘X’ it does not remotely claim to be anything about Christ. It would be difficult to see how it could.
For the Christian, Christmas is still some way off. In fact, this Sunday marks the start of the season of preparation for that feast. Advent is a time when try to make some space to think again about two intertwined ‘comings’: the second coming of Christ at the end of time and his first coming among us as a tiny babe. Both are linked and both shed light on the other. On this first Sunday of Advent we think not so much of the babe but of the man who is both Lord and Saviour coming triumphantly at the end of time to judge all peoples. That reflection gives the context for the celebration of Christ’s birth. The child who is born is none other than the eternal Son of God who has come into our world to save us.
The shops and the celebs and the parties are just distractions. Take part in it all if you want, but try to make some time each day in the next month to remember what really matters. P.D.