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We’re Not Immaculate, but We Can Make a Difference

Posted: December 07, 2016 | Author: Fr. Leo


On December 8, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - that is, when Christ's Mother Mary, "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin." (NewAdvent.org). So, in essence, she was born without original sin and worthy to bear the Christ Child, Jesus. This is an important celebration (it's a Holy Day of Obligation, so get to church today!) because it shows us the grace of God and the importance of Mary in salvation history, for she is the new "Eve" and "Ark of the Covenant", made worthy to bring Jesus into the world.

 

 A traditional depiction of The Immaculate Conception (courtesy of Wikipedia)

As we reflect on what this all means, we understand that we are not immaculate. Theologically, it means to be free from sin, but even the standard definition of the term means to be "perfectly clean, neat, and tidy". As you know, we all have our messes, be it the struggles we face from within or around us. However, it is important to know that even though both Mary and Jesus are immaculate, that does not mean they didn't suffer at all. As a matter of fact, it can be seen how they suffered greatly in their lives, and how Jesus took on the ultimate suffering and sacrifice so that we would not. Knowing this, let us remember that in spite of our mistakes and messes we get into, we are also made capable of bringing Jesus into the world and into the lives of those around us everyday. We truly can make a difference if we just try, and know that God's infinite mercy is poured out upon us even when we stumble. For this, we remember the saying, "Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future" - meaning that even the best saints we look up to were not immaculate either, but acheived so much good, even if just in the small things.

One example of a person I have grown proud of is a young man named David Pack, who I have featured before (see the post "Exchanging Inspiration - A Young Man’s Mission to Serve Through Food"). If you recall, he had begun food and faith group C3K (Cooking, Chemistry, and Community for Kids) which he has shared around the world, including at Hogar Infantil Orphanage in Tijuana. At the end of the year at St. Augustine High School assembly, he was recognized by Senators Joel Anderson and Marty Block for Outstanding Community Service in founding his organization C3K. He also been recently awarded the Matthew 25 award from the Catholic Diocese of San Diego.

David receiving his "Outstanding Community Service" Award. 

According to his mother, this past summer David and C3K were very busy. They have been supporting the nutritional program at Mama Dee's Pantry of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Chula Vista.  Every week, long lines of low-income families are able to pick up fresh produce from the pantry.  However, because many do not know how to use the fresh produce in a meal, David and his organization have been teaching them how to do so. They have been making fresh meals like Summer Ceviche Salad, Jicama/ Orange Salad, Fresh Tomato Salsa and Strawberry Cream dessert (a dish that was given by Fr. Leo) to name a few. The families were able to sample the meals he prepared and were given a recipe to try at home.  More than 400 low-income families have been helped this summer. 

Also David participated in a Charity Cook off won in both the savory and sweet category but the big winners were the 2 charities raising $1,400 for Hogar Infantil and the Jose Montano Foundation. Since his participation with the Nutritional Pantry, David has been asked to join the Chula Vista Hunger Relief Forum to present re-purposed food meals that would normally be wasted. His mother is proud, and shares updates on where he is because his life was changed by an encounter with me at an event in 2014. She says:

"It was 2 years ago October 2014 my son David had the opportunity to cook alongside Fr. Leo. It was that day that changed his life.  I'm just amazed that David so young has found his passion and purpose in life.  Just yesterday I had a chance to hear him speak to the Chula Vista Hunger Relief Forum committee and present his C3K organization to them. It made me proud to hear him talk about how his program evolved. His inspiration came from Fr. Leo to know that there is power in food. As Fr. Leo always said, "It is no wonder Jesus presents himself in the form of bread."  David ended his presentation with a quote by Saint Mother Teresa, "It is the small things that we do with great love that we can make a difference."  As a mother I feel so blessed that I believe he is making a difference."

I share this example because not only am I happy to know that I helped make a difference in this young man's life, but he is making an impact in many people's lives as well. And while what he is doing is remarkable, you are just as capable to make impacts in this life. It is not the scope of the acts that God measures, but the love with which they are conducted. So on this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, ask Mary for her intercession every day so that you may bring Christ into the world for those who don't see Him, and that you may be counted among the saints. Now get to church!

Let Us Pray

Through the intercession of Immaculate Mary, we ask God for His eternal mercy, grace, and assistance in our lives. Though we are not free from sin, may we not be discouraged when we fail. Instead, may we be inspired by those we look up to, be it saints, family members, friends, and Christ Himself. For it is through His love that we know how to love, and with this, we have the ability to truly change the world. So let us change the world that more will be made worthy of Christ's heavenly kingdom. 

Food for Thought

1) What do you reflect on when thinking about the Immaculate Conception?

2) Is there an organization that you are a part of that helps to make differences in the lives of a community? What is it, and what do you do in it?

3) What do you do to get back on track following a mistake, failure or unforeseen circumstance? 

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