Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lordat the Temple which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus.
It is also known as Candlemas day, since candles are blessed and brought in solemn procession in today’s liturgy.
In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it is referred to as the Purification of Mary. According to the Gospel, Mary and Joseph took the Infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days (inclusive) after his birth to complete Mary’s ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn son, in obedience to the Torah (Leviticus 12, Exodus 13:12–15, etc.).
It is considered a “Christmas feast” since it points back to the Solemnity of Christmas. You can read the full text of today’s Gospel below, to contemplate this beautiful mystery, as we pray:
Almighty ever-living God,
we humbly implore your majesty
that, just as your Only Begotten Son
was presented on this day in the Temple
in the substance of our flesh,
so, by your grace,
we may be presented to you with minds made pure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The Gospel at today’s Mass
My eyes have seen your salvation
When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:
‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’
As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’
There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.
The 34th World Youth Day 2019 concluded on Sunday 27th before 700,000 people at the Campo San Juan Pablo II – Metro Park (Panama City, Panama), with Holy Mass presided by Pope Francis. The Holy Father gave his homily based on a theme from the Sunday’s Gospel: “The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them: ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’” (Lk 4:20-21).
The Pope explained that the “today” Jesus is referring, was not 2,000 years ago, but is still true today, our “now”. “Jesus reveals the now of God”. “In Jesus, the promised future begins and becomes life”. Unfortunately, “we do not always believe that God can be that concrete and commonplace, that close and real… [because] a close and everyday God, a friend and brother, demands that we be concerned with our surroundings…God is real because love is real”.
All of us can experience the danger of living in “a kind of waiting room, sitting around until we are called”. Both adults and young people risk thinking “your Now has not yet come…. that you are too young to be involved in dreaming about and working for the future”. He stressed that we need one another “to encourage dreaming of and working for tomorrow, starting today… Not tomorrow but now… Realize that you have a mission and fall in love….We may possess everything, but if we lack the passion of love, we will have nothing”.
The Holy Father explained that for Jesus there is no ‘meantime’: “He is not an interval in life or a passing fad. He is generous love that invites us to entrust ourselves”. He exhorted all young people not to be “paralyzed [by] fear and exclusion, speculation and manipulation [but rather, to recognise the] concrete, close, real love” of Jesus. The Lord and His mission are not “something temporary, they are our life”.
He reminded us all that we “are on a journey…. Keep walking, keep living the faith and sharing it”. So, do not forget, he said, that “you are not the tomorrow, you are not the ‘meantime’, you are the Now of God”.
At the conclusion it was announced that the next World Youth Day will be held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2022.
Christmastide ended with the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.
With the end of Christmas and the feasts that accompany it, the Church returns to her so-called Ordinary Time. This is a fitting way to remind us that the entire reason why God was born, became one like us —in everything but sin— was to show us the way back to the Father, which we had lost through the sin of Adam and Eve. This is at the heart of the mystery of our Redemption as revealed by God.
The Baptism of Jesus therefore signals the dawn of our hope: that being baptized in Him, we will die with Him, to rise with Him (c.f. St. Paul Rom 6:3-5; 1 Cor 10:11-12; Col 2:12).
The basis of our re-birth in Christ, is our new life in the Sacred Trinity: to live in an ineffable communion of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit; in an eternal embrace of joy! That relationship begins now, through Baptism.
Jesus became truly man so that He could illumine the way for us, by following Him along our life-long road of conversion: turning away from sin and living a new life in God. Baptism is the gateway which Christ opens for us, to make possible our entry into Paradise —if we so desire— and live with Him forever.
The ‘Ordinary Time’ of the Church’s Liturgical Year in 2019 began on Monday 14th January. This means that we resume the 3-year cycle of readings from Sacred Scriptures which are proclaimed at Holy Mass each Sunday and during the weekdays.
Also, the ‘Divine Office’ or ‘Liturgy of the Hours’ which all religious, bishops, priests and deacons are obliged to recite in the name of the Church, ‘resets’ back to its starting point for the new liturgical year after the Feast of Christ the King, or more accurately, beginning from the First Sunday of Advent.
Since the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, an astonishing number of lay people, associations of Apostolic Life and groups have joined in this ‘Universal Prayer of the Church’. This is a tremendous blessing for the world, whereby from East to West, “from the rising of the sun to its setting, a pure sacrifice may be made offered to your name” [Eucharistic Prayer 3].
As with the Eucharistic Prayer which the Priest offers In Persona Christi —that is, in the Person of Christ— is Christ’s perfect prayer of praise and thanksgiving, which He offers continually to the Father, similarly the ‘Divine Office’ is His intercession for His Body, the Church.
In this official Prayer of the Church, we can feel the presence of our brothers and sisters —the Church in Heaven and the Church in Purgatory— praying in unison with the ‘pilgrimage Church’ on Earth. This is the nature and reality of the Catholic Church, which finds her origins and mission in the one Sacrifice of Christ, offered once and for all, to the Father on Calvary and made actual —in our time— through the Sacred Sacrifice of the Mass.
This Mystery is truly awesome! It generates in our hearts a sublime desire to worship the Triune God. It is the humbling feeling that our infinite God loves us. Without God, we are meaningless and finite; of little lasting worth! This sentiment of true devotion invites us to bend our knees and bow low, with deep reverence, as we behold and adore the Body and Blood of Christ at the elevation at Holy Mass. As we do so, God’s light of hope touches our hearts and makes us new: the grace of God, so freely given, transforms us into a new creation in Christ. That is why our Baptism unfolds and reveals throughout our life, who God destined us to be. It spells the unique mission we all have: to creatively reflect something of our ‘image and likeness’ of God, back to the Father who created us out of nothing.
The Church encourages all her Faithful to pray the Divine Office and also, to be renwed each day at Holy Mass. If we do so and listen to God’s Word attentively, which is at the heart —like a scaffold— of all our liturgies, we will have virtually gone through the entire Bible in 3 years! What a wonderful way to make a home in our hearts for Jesus, the Word-made-flesh!
In this year 2019, the programme of readings from Sacred Scripture for the Divine Office and for Holy Mass are as follows:
In the ‘Divine Office’ also known as theBreviary, the 4-week Psalter begins now with week 1.
For Holy Mass:
Sunday readings = Year C.
Weekday readings = Cycle I.
The colour for the Liturgical vestments is green, symbolizing hope and fresh, new growth (as in God’s creation all around us) in our relationship with Christ.
Today, too, let us join in prayer with the Christian community of Sri Lanka, which was struck by terrible violence on Easter Sunday. We entrust to the risen Lord the victims, the wounded and all the suffering. #PrayForSriLanka