Reflection: Presentation of the Lord

Mass: Tuesday, February 2, 2010
First Reading: Mal 3:1-4
Responsorial Psalm 24:7, 8, 9, 10
Second Reading: Heb 2:14-18
Gospel: Lk 2:22-40

February 2nd is a date that holds significant meaning for many throughout history. Despite the rich diversity of stories and events associated with this day, they all have one thing in common. Let’s see if you can figure what that is.

Imagine what it must be like for a young, teenaged girl to have her whole world turned upside down in the past year with the following experiences: being visited by a ghost who predicted many extraordinary things that are starting to come true; gotten pregnant out of wedlock knowing that is punishable by stoning; almost got dumped by her fiancee; finally got married while keeping the pregnancy secret to the public; setting out on a difficult road trip while about to give birth; finally having the child in a stink, smelly barn; having stranger visiting you and wanting to see your child—although some did bring wonderful gifts, which isn’t all that bad!; having to get up and move out of harms way; and now bringing this child to the temple, only to be told by an old man that more challenges await.

What keeps Mary going? What keeps her faithful? True, she has the big advantage of being born without sin, but what about Joseph? Imagine what he must be going through watching this unfold.

Perhaps there are enough lights of hope through all these difficulties—the visitation of the angel; the brightest star guiding the way; the affirmation of three kings and now these wisdom figures at the temple.

Fast forward several hundred years to the middle ages and another scene related to this date. We are now in eastern Europe. It is the dead of winter. Dark and stormy. No lights or electricity. At Church, beeswax candles are blessed and sent home and placed in the windows to ward off the storm and light up the home throughout the year. After all, it’s the feast known as Candlemas. Notice, once again, the symbol of light as protection, faith and hope.

Jump a few hundred years to 1801 in Bordeaux, France. A little French priest named William Joseph witnesses the commitment of a dozen lay people to the vision of Church as given to him by the Blessed Mother just a few years ago while on exile in Saragossa, Spain.

Although province directories and liturgy guides were yet to be invented, I imagine that light and candles were involved, somehow, as they professed their commitments to the Marianist way of life. Imagine what Chaminade must have felt as the candles were lit on this day—when only four years ago, he was banished from his own country on account of his faith.

We move a few years later, mid-1800s, into the new world, across the Atlantic ocean, to the United States. It is a cold, dark morning in the northeast. You awaken, wondering to yourself how much longer this cold, dark weather will last. You vaguely hear voices outside calling your name. As you rouse yourself out of bed, you see a faint glow of light. Excitedly, you run outside to see it is finally, a sunny day. All of a sudden, you see your shadow and run back inside your house. Unfortunately, there will be no early spring this year! You are Punxsutawney Phil, and the light of the sun is an important part of your life.

Finally, we move about 200 more years into the future, to south-central Texas—San Antonio, to be exact. We are gathered here at Mass in Casa Maria. The candle with the Marianist logo is lit, and it says, “The Marianist Flame: Pass it on.”

We are given the gift of a new day and another opportunity to be messengers of light. Fueled by the eucharist we are about to receive, let us pray that we use this day to honor the spirit of our founder’s vision by being and bringing Christ, the light of the world, to others.

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