Feet Must Be Shod

Last month, on a cold November night in Times Square, Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo, who had been assigned there as part of a counter terrorism unit, noticed an old man. He was clearly homeless and even more obviously barefoot. Officer DePrimo asked the man his shoe size. He then went into a nearby Skechers Shoe Store and bought the man a pair of all-weather boots. They would normally cost about $100, but the sales clerk, understanding their purpose, used his employee discount to bring the price down to $75.

Does this sort of thing happen often? Maybe it happens more than we think, though obviously not as often as it should. According to Jose Cano, the shoe salesman, “Most of us are New Yorkers and we just kind of pass by that kind of thing. Especially in this neighborhood.” Indeed, no one would know of this incident, but a tourist from Arizona snapped a picture of Officer DePrimo, giving the boots to the homeless man. The photo went viral.

Advertisement

All feasts of the Church are both joyful and prophetic. We never simply extol the life of Christ, or one of his saints, without bringing the gladsome news to bear upon our own lives. How does the teaching that Mary, by a singular, prevenient grace, was preserved from all sin, from the first moment of her conception, come to rest in our lives?

Perhaps by noting that, although the grace was singular, its prevenient nature was not. God’s grace is always anticipatory. It runs ever before us. Indeed, come the end, that Gospel truth may well be the one most highly confessed: that grace outraced the times of trial.

What God did in the life of Mary, and does in our lives, is not unlike what Officer DePrimo did for that homeless man. Lawrence DePrimo didn’t turn away. He saw a need and responded. Compassion shod the feet of another.

At the core of the Christian faith is a conviction that we are alienated from that deepest, most loving core of reality, which we name God. The Gospel is the proclamation that God hasn’t turned away. God saw our need and responded. Compassion compels the Incarnation of Christ.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is the great acclamation that grace ran ahead, purchased the shoes we would need to walk and set us on our way. Christ is God’s new beginning in the world. In Christ God clothes our humanity with divinity. But grace, like charity, must run deep. It has to permeate the foundations. Feet must be shod.

On this Feast of the Immaculate Conception the Church confesses that there is one person, completely created, no more than human, where grace was utterly triumphant. If Christ is God’s divinity clothing our humanity, then Mary is our humanity, responding absolutely to God. Mary is humanity’s shod feet; our happy new foundation in grace. That truth is meant to set the rest of us on our feet.

Genesis 3: 9-15, 20 Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12 Luke 1: 26-38

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Workers march in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sept. South Africa's biggest union group held marches nationwide to protest what it alleges is chronic corruption fueled by President Jacob Zuma and a prominent family of businessmen, reflecting public anger over a scandal that has ensnared several international companies. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
The bishops “urge constitutional experts and the law reform commission to guide the nation on the feasibility of establishing an anti-corruption court, with specialized prosecutors, that would ensure speedy and efficient disposal of corruption cases and financial crimes.”
Russell Pollitt, S.J.October 19, 2017
“Goodbye, Christopher Robin” is a dramatic look at the life of the British writer A. A. Milne and his strained relationship with his son.
Haley StewartOctober 19, 2017
There are no epidurals for manuscripts.
Natalia Imperatori-LeeOctober 19, 2017
Photo by Beth Teutschmann on Unsplash
The ghost turnip, with its pinched angry face, was made for Halloween.