“Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord.” ~ Luke 2:23
Upon arriving at Mass this evening I was pleasantly surprised to see our Acolyte passing out small white candles to the faithful on hand, candles that would in turn be ignited by the large Baptismal Candle placed at the rear of the Church. This was of course a nod to Candlemas Day, which some of you may recognize as another name for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Our Church celebrates this Feast today.
The Presentation of the Lord Jesus is in essence a proclamation of Christ as Messiah and Priest, Lord and Savior. He is the light who came into this world to dispel the darkness of evil and sin. For this reason, candles are blessed at Mass on this day, hence the coining and subsequent use of the term Candlemas. This tradition dates back to the seventh century. In many Eastern European countries, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord officially closes the celebration of Christmas. For this reason, Saint John Paul II began the custom of keeping the Nativity scene on display in St. Peter’s Square until February 2nd.
Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple so that he could partake of the rites of purification and dedication as prescribed by the Torah, the details of which are outlined in the Book of Leviticus (12:1-4). This rite of purification included the offering of a sacrifice, a lamb for a holocaust and a pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering. For a poor couple who could not afford a lamb, two pigeons or two turtledoves were an acceptable offering. Scripture tells us that Joseph and Mary would made the offering of the poor (Luke 2:24).
Jesus was of course presented in the Temple for our sake. He did not need to be consecrated to God through the observance of the Law, for he wasGod. Instead he humbled himself under the Law to redeem from the Law those who had been subjected to it. In doing so, He brought salvation into the world.
As Christians, our parents “present” us to the Church by way of our Baptism, this gateway Sacrament that seals us with the Holy Spirit and claims us as children of God the Father. Sin and death have no power or dominion over a baptized child of God. At our baptism, we also receive a blessed candle which is lit from the paschal candle, at which time the priest proclaims, “You have been enlightened by Christ. Walk always as a child of the light and keep the flame of faith alive in your heart. When the Lord comes, may you go out to meet Him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.” As baptized children of the light. we must respond to our evangelical vocation, forever striving to be the bright light that guides others to Christ.
In recent months, I find myself reflecting greatly on the words of the prophet Malachi in today’s 1st Reading (Mal 3:1-4) . . . . haunted by them really. It is in this passage that he foreshadows the coming of Jesus, the “messenger of the covenant,” he whom the world desires. . . longs for. If this passage sounds familiar, keep in mind that it was also proclaimed, as it is every year, on December 23rd, appropriate and timely in light of the fact that we find ourselves on the cusp of the Eve of our Savior’s birth. As a matter of fact, my essay on that particular day was devoted solely to the following aforementioned haunting words, wherein the Sage Old Testament Prophet asks: “Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand firm when he appears?” https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Enduring-the-Day-of-His-Coming. Never has this question been more germane, more urgent in nature. Jesus himself posed a somewhat similar query in Luke 18:8 when he wondered aloud to those in his midst “When the Son of Man returns, will he find any faith?”
The Pastor of my Parish, I have come to find out, is currently under intense scrutiny for teaching the fullness and richness of our faith. Taking a page from the soon-to-be-canonized Fulton J. Sheen, he has consistently and rightfully spoken out against the evils of Socialism and Communism In his homilies. For his efforts he has been ostracized by a small but very vocal handful of Parishioners. He has been criticized for his anti-abortion stance as well. Yes, you read that correctly. A Catholic Priest is being criticized for defending the pro life position from the pulpit of the Church over which he resides as Pastor.
“Pro Choice Catholics,” the equivalent of lamb chop loving vegetarians, have repeatedly reported our Pastor to the Bishop. Unlike those in Jesus’ time, who could not for instance accept the teachings of the true presence of the Eucharist but at least possessed the decency to simply walk away (John 6:53-67), thus allowing the faithful to pursue the narrow path to salvation, today’s “progressive Catholics” have chosen instead to linger, to brazenly challenge the unchanging and everlasting truth of Jesus’ teachings. To attempt to place a barricade in front of this already narrow gate. Through the misguided and heavy-handed leveraging of unfounded and unwarranted influence, these individuals seek to essentially re-write the Gospels, putting both their souls and the souls of their fellow Parishioners who are suddenly at risk of being starved of the truth in peril. For if they succeed in their efforts to extinguish the truth, if they are indeed able to silence the brave shepherds who teach the truth, the Priests who ardently seek to help the faithful in their efforts to “endure the day of his coming, to stand firm when he appears,” the answer to the Prophet Malachi’s question is obvious: no one.
No one will endure the day of his coming. No one can stand firm when he appears.
In the closing words of today’s Gospel, we’re told that “The child (Jesus) grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40). This same wisdom, a free gift of the Spirit, can fill our souls as well, if only we would ask for it https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Radiance-That-Never-Ceases. If only we would seek it (Matthew 7:7). And yes, the free gift of our life proves that we too have the favor of God upon us.
Let us pray that the truth is never reduced to a long forgotten causality, stomped out by those who hate it. For just as Jesus was presented at the temple of the Lord, the day will come when each and every one of us will present ourselves to Jesus and stand in judgement https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/JUDGEMENT-Coming-to-a-Soul-Near-You.
Will you endure the day of his coming?
Meg Jatcko on February 04, 2021:
Enjoy your reflections Chuck, especially how you defend Fr. Larry our
most faithful and courageous pastor. These are most certainly the times Our Blessed Mother talked about at Fatima, good is wrong and wrong is right.