We find ourselves in the midst of Advent and immediate preparation for Christmas. Advent is a season in which we reflect on the past experiences of those who await the coming of the Promised One as well as those who were chosen by God to be His Son’s earthly parents. But this reflection is not a mere looking to the past; it is also looking at the present. We await that explosion of grace that comes to us during this season when Christ makes His presence known to us once more, but in a deeper way.
Besides being in the middle of Advent, a few weeks ago we celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Mary is an important figure in our Advent reflections. As I continue my reflections on the Eucharist and as Mary is one of the central figures of Advent, I thought I would share with you some musings on the title that was penned by St. John Paul II: “Mary, Woman of the Eucharist.”
Our beloved Blessed Mother is a teacher par excellence in the pondering of the face of Christ. Every nativity scene in the world depicts her contemplating the Word becoming Flesh. Her awe did not just begin at the moment of His birth. Rather, she is the model of abandonment to the Word and the Will of God. Her fiat, her YES, to the message of the angel is present to us TODAY in a profound way. “How so?” you might ask. Let me explain.
Every time we declare “Amen” when we receive the Body of Christ, we echo Mary’s YES. We continue our Mother’s faith as her son or daughter. Remember the adage, “The apple does not fall too far from the tree?” When we say, “Amen,” “we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.”1
When we receive the Eucharist, our bodies become living temples of the Word for today’s world like Mary’s body. The difference is that our experience is a sacramental fact and that requires faith. Do we really OWN this fact? Or do we run out of church without giving the time to ponder this aspect, to express gratitude to our Creator? For a very brief time after reception of the Eucharist, we are not only one with the Trinity but we share sacramentally in the life of all those around us. I know that I am writing this to “the choir” of the faithful. Even so, we can always have a deeper realization of this incredible mystery.
Ponder this reality as we run to and fro and prepare for Christmas. Take a moment to think that the greatest present that we can EVER receive is the Presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world.
1 Ecclesia De Eucharistia – Paragraph 55 found at: https://www.vatican.va/holy_father/special_features/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_20030417_ecclesia_eucharistia_en.html
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness