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 | By Deacon Dan Lupo | Columnist

Like Mary, may we be tabernacle and monstrance

Before he “dwelt among us,” Jesus’ first dwelling was Mother Mary’s womb. For nine months, Mary was the first tabernacle of Christ – where God’s presence resided, awaiting a full encounter with all of humanity.

Mary was the keeper of that presence: preserving, protecting, nourishing and loving. God’s Spirit enlivened his presence in her -- she grew in blessedness and grace as the Son of God grew within her.

This humbles me and inspires me to grow like our Blessed Mother: in grace, surrender, patience, silence, service and witness:

Surrender – I can learn to consent to God’s will: be it done unto me according to God’s word. (Lk 1:38) This involves living no longer for myself, but for others – until I live no longer I, but Christ who lives in me. (Gal 2:20)

Patience – I can learn to be patient with how God is growing me and growing in me – even when growth seems three steps forward, two steps back. I can be mindful that the Lord is indeed changing me, so that a new creation – a better, more Christ-centered version of myself – can be born. (James 1:3-4)

Quietude – I can learn to keep the noise of the world in my heart (not react emotionally) and ponder them in God’s quiet presence (Lk 2:19). Bringing the vagaries of my day – the struggles, joys, questions and challenges – to the Lord in silence, I allow him to say the word that heals my soul. Come Lord Jesus.

Service – I can learn to recognize the needs of others and be emboldened to offer help, as Mary did for Elizabeth, her cousin, while both were pregnant. I can be encouraged that from my sacrifice of doing for others, I will be doing for God (Mt 25:40-45), in essence loving God by loving others. (Jn 13:35)

Witness – It has been said that we, too, are tabernacles of Christ: that each time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, Jesus then dwells in us. So I pray to learn how to abide in the Lord who abides in me (1 Jn 4:16). So that I can live not only as tabernacle but also as monstrance. So that when people see me, they see Jesus truly present in me.

I tremble when I consider Jesus dwelling in me - I'm so flawed, frail, unworthy. And so, I am grateful to say at Mass, with deep humility and all sincerity, this impossible truth: “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof; but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Then as I receive Jesus, I say “Amen”. So be it. I consent. Yes. Be it done unto me according to your word. I gratefully acknowledge that the goodness and mercy of God are greater than my confounding sins and meager gifts. Despite my flaws, the Lord says the word and I am healed – called to be Jesus’ tabernacle – and monstrance.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Mary for her example of how to live those blessings. Amen.

Deacon Dan Lupo serves at St. Thomas More Parish in Austin. He is a diocesan spiritual director, a healing prayer minister and a retreat leader. Contact him at