Friday, February 2, 2024

†..Coming Forward To . . . .


Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Candlemas. It is based on the Scripture passage in Luke 2:22-40 where the Holy Family journeys to Jerusalem forty days after the birth of Jesus to present him to God and offer sacrifice in the temple. At this time Mary completes the ritual purification required of women after childbirth, and Joseph offers the sacrifice for the redemption of the firstborn, as required by the Law of Moses. The Holy Family offered two turtledoves, permitted to the poor instead of a whole lamb. During their time in the temple Simeon gave his famous prophecy about the Christ Child being a light to the Gentile nations and a sign for the Jews, and that a sword would pierce Mary's soul. On this day the Church has a special ritual involving a procession and the blessing of candles, a symbol of Christ whose birth illumined the world's darkness.

†Quote of the Day

"Without a doubt, obedience is more meritorious than any other penance. And what greater penance can there be than keeping one's will continually submissive and obedient?"
–St. Catherine of Bologna

Today's Meditation

"In this valley of tears, every man is born to weep, and all must suffer, by enduring the evils that take place every day. But how much greater would be the misery of life, if we also knew the future evils that await us! 'Unfortunate, indeed, would be the situation of someone who knows the future', says the pagan Roman philosopher Seneca; 'he would have to suffer everything by anticipation'. Our Lord shows us this mercy. He conceals the trials that await us so that, whatever they may be, we may endure them only once. But he didn't show Mary this compassion. God willed her to be the Queen of Sorrows, and in all things like his Son. So she always had to see before her eyes, and continually to suffer, all the torments that awaited her. And these were the sufferings of the passion and death of her beloved Jesus. For in the temple, St. Simeon, having received the divine Child in his arms, foretold to her that her Son would be a sign for all the persecutions and oppositions of men. … Jesus our King and his most holy mother didn't refuse, for love of us, to suffer such cruel pains throughout their lives. So it's reasonable that we, at least, should not complain if we have to suffer something."
—St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 223

Daily Verse

"One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple."
–Psalm 27:4


Saint Lawrence of Canterbury

St. Lawrence of Canterbury (d. 619 A.D.) was among the original band of missionaries sent from Rome to evangelize England with St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury. As a fruit of their labor the region's most powerful ruler, the King of Kent, became a baptized Christian along with many of his countrymen. When Augustine died, Lawrence became Canterbury's second Archbishop. He was a zealous leader and urged the Celtic bishops to keep peace and unity with Rome. When the King of Kent died, his pagan son caused great damage to the faith of the people and the mission work which had been done among them; because of this, some of the missionaries fled to Gaul. Lawrence was so upset by the abandonment of Christianity among his flock that he considered abandoning his bishopric as well. In response, St. Peter the Apostle appeared to him in a vision, rebuked him, and scourged him so badly that Lawrence had physical marks on his body from the encounter. St. Lawrence then relayed his vision to the king and showed him his wounds, causing the king to convert to the Christian faith as his father did. St. Lawrence's feast day is February 2nd.


Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Reading 1 Mal 3:1-4

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner's fire,
or like the fuller's lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Responsorial Psalm PS 24:7, 8, 9, 10

R. (8) Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD of hosts; he is the king of glory.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!

Reading 2 Heb 2:14-18

Since the children share in blood and flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters
in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

Alleluia Lk 2:32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A light of revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 2:22-40

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

"Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel."

The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
"Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
—and you yourself a sword will pierce—
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.


Daily Meditation: Luke 2:22-40

Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. (Luke 2:22)

Imagine the generosity of spirit it took for Mary and Joseph to do what they did that day in the Temple. They loved their son, Jesus, and cherished him deeply. They experienced every parental attachment and instinct that all other parents feel. And yet they chose not to follow the Jewish custom of "redeeming" him and claiming him as their own (Numbers 18:15-16). Instead, they offered him back to the Lord.

Joseph and Mary knew that Jesus had been conceived by the Holy Spirit. They knew that he belonged to the Lord more than he belonged to them. They even knew that he belonged to the world more than to them. And so, selflessly, they promised to share him with everyone.

Look at today's Gospel reading as an example. When Simeon, a complete stranger, came up to them, Mary and Joseph let him take their child in his arms. They heard him say that, if they made good on their promise, Jesus' life would be filled with conflict and that a "sword" would pierce Mary's heart (Luke 2:34-35). But they didn't shrink back. Raising him according to the "wisdom" and "favor of God" (2:40), they continued to prepare him for his mission.

Even after Joseph died, Mary kept offering her son to the Lord and his people.

She freely gave him to Peter, John, and the other disciples as he began his ministry. She shared him with the crowds who constantly gathered around him, even when he said that they were now his family (Mark 3:35).

At the cross, as a "sword" of grief did pierce her heart, Mary made her most painful offering yet. Joining in Jesus' prayer, "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34), she offered him not only to God but to the very people who had crucified him.

Today on this feast of the Presentation, imagine Mary and Joseph freely placing the child Jesus in your arms. Then marvel at their generosity—and the generosity of God!

"Thank you, Mary and Joseph, for sharing your son with me!"

Malachi 3:1-4
Psalm 24:7-10
Hebrews 2:14-18


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Reflections with Brother Adrian:
Audio English


In the Gospel today we heard:
"Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
"Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted —and you yourself a sword will pierce—so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
There was also a prophetess, Anna...She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem......."
end of Gospel verse.
. . .

From Bishop Barron:
"Friends, our Gospel today celebrates the Presentation of the Lord in the temple. We are meant to understand that the glory of Yahweh is returning to the temple in the arms of Mary and Joseph, thus fulfilling one of the deepest aspirations of Israel's people.
Now, there is more to this story than the return of the Lord to his temple. The Son of God, having taken to himself a human nature, is presented to the Father, and thereby the human race is brought back online. This little baby is the reconciliation of divinity and humanity, is the very essence of temple sacrifice.
At the climax of his life, this baby, now come of age, would enter the temple again. This time, he would pass judgment on it and declare his own body as the new temple. A few days later, on the cross, he would perform the final temple sacrifice, offering himself to the Father, even as he bore the sins of the human race.
The Presentation of Jesus in the temple, perfected on the cross, is re-presented every time the Mass is celebrated. The Presentation of the Lord goes on now in our churches, in our temples....." end quote Bishop Barron.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 529) teaches,

The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the "light to the nations" and the "glory of Israel," but also "a sign that is spoken against." The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had "prepared in the presence of all peoples."

It is also important to note that, as a poor family, the Holy Family gave an offering of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. However, the Lamb whom they brought to the Temple was the Lamb of God.
At what age was Jesus presented in the temple?

He was presented when He was still a newborn, only 40 days old.

"In the mysterious encounter between Simeon and Mary, the Old and New Testaments are joined. Together the aging prophet and the young mother give thanks for this Light which has kept the darkness from prevailing. It is the Light which shines in the heart of human life: Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world, 'a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of his people Israel.'" – Pope St. John Paul II

When we pray the rosary on the days of the joyful mysteries, we pray this mystery and I always ask our kids "what is the fruit of this mystery? The fruit of the mystery of the Presentation of the Lord is "obedience".

We are all called to obedience. And not just any obedience, but Holy Obedience to God our Father. And I've said it many times now, that I believe that Holy Obedience will get us much further in the Kingdom than by any other means, to a life of grace and holiness.
And obedience to the first commands of our Lord are to reign supreme. What commands? Love God our Father with all we got, and love our neighbor. These are the laws that our Lord came to die for to engrave in our hearts.

I tell the youth "obey, just obey, you don't understand right now, you may get mad, you may feel like your losing your own life, but just obey, trust in God's word".

Such has been my case, and I can accredit any good in my life to holy obedience. My mom told me something that shocked me one day, she said that I too, when was in confirmation class, I wanted to drop out just like all my other friends. I couldn't believe my ears. I couldn't believe I would even utter those words in my life! I always thought I was good and obedient. And so now I cannot stop telling people "just obey" and open your heart to God. You cannot believe how far you will grow into Heaven by doing these two things.
But be careful, what I say, I see many obey with cruel hearts. The first obedience is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Then all the rest! That is our task. How can we pry open our hardened and cold hearts? Let Him.

Let us pray today:
My Lord and My God, who art in Heaven, Holy is Thy Name, may Thy Kingdom Come and Thy will be done, on earth as it is called to in Heaven.
May I accomplish my mission on earth, with Your Grace, and grow ever more in Your love!


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Random Bible Verse 1
Hebrews 13:15

15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.


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