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Again and again at key points in the story of salvation, the Holy Spirit, the power of God, comes revealed in a cloud. In the cloud, God's presence is revealed while the full glory of his transcendence is shrouded.
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Last week I was invited to an interesting meeting in my inner city neighbourhood of Boyle McCauley in Edmonton. The meeting was called to plan for the upcoming celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Boyle McCauley Health Centre. I have a personal interest in this because I was part of the initial organizing committee and a member of the first board of directors 30 years ago. The meeting was an opportunity to talk about the early history of the health centre, and particularly about the role of the Medical Mission Sisters in the organizing, and visioning during the early years of this unique community health centre.
The intimate communion between the Holy Spirit and Mary continued throughout her life. Her Immaculate Conception was not merely an episode at the start of her life. Rather, the Spirit abided.
From the outside, the Immaculate Conception is likely seen as the oddest and the most unnecessary of Catholic doctrines. To have faith in salvation through Jesus, we surely do not have to believe that his mother was conceived without the taint of original sin, do we?
Too often, John the Baptist gets portrayed as a first-century crank, a fierce guy with shabby clothes and unkempt beard and hair, who lives like a homeless person. We perhaps see him in the same light as a grubby man who, amidst downtown crowds, carries a sign that reads, "The End is Near."
The Breath of God filled creation with the glory of God's presence. But Adam and Eve shattered the bond of communion by breaking away from God. After that, not only humanity, but also all earthly creation, had a broken, diminished existence.