On February 2, we celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It is a beautiful feast even as it evokes thoughts and memories that are part of the diverse devotions and traditions that make up our Catholic culture.
The Gospel text introduces us to Mary and Joseph who bring the child Jesus to the temple. There, the ancient ones, Simeon and Ana, proclaim, rejoice and bless. Jesus is proclaimed as the one true light of the world under whose splendor all divine promises are fulfilled. There is ecstatic rejoicing because such joy is of angels who proclaim that there is nothing impossible for God. And, there are blessings as in the blessing that is bestowed upon the beloved children of God.
From the splendor of the Gospel text the devotion of “bringing the image of the child to church”, does not distance us from the Gospel message, it draws us closer. The child of Mary and Joseph is held in the arms of Simeon, and will always be the source of consolation and joy ready to be held by every generation.
Because the Gospel proclaims Jesus as the true light, so on this feast that is also called Candlemas, we bless candles, that they may represent that true light. A candle will be lit, especially in moments of travail. The light of Christ will never abandon us.
Also, notice with me, that the entire scene of the encounter between the Holy Family and Simeon and Ana is a veiled image of the Resurrection. After the death of Christ on the Cross, after he is buried and all seemed lost, the impossible takes place, Christ rises from the dead! Simeon and Ana are the future apostles, a Simon Peter and a Mary Magdalene and a beloved John and all others. They are witnesses as we are called to be witnesses, of the true light, the joy beyond any other joy, the blessing beyond all blessings. Not only can we hold the child of consolation and joy, but we are also held by the grace of God who is the Shepherd, the Healer, the Redeemer, Our Lord.
This is the Good News that becomes very intimate and personal. The darkness of the pandemic, the darkness of the virus that has taken so many lives will be vanquished by Christ. In my Missionary Servant Congregation, we have lost to Covid-19, Fr. Anselm Deeher, S.T. long remembered as chaplain at the Veterans Hospital, Fr. Joseph Keenan, S.T. long remembered as the Peace and Justice committee, and Fr. Francisco Valdovinos, S.T. the man of action who pushed his way into every corner, so that those most in need might find comfort. I can’t help but pray we be granted vocations to our Congregation. The Feast of the Presentation is an everyday feast, we can hold the child and allow ourselves to be held by our Savior, every day. – and every day pray for S.T. vocations.
Father Francisco Gómez, S.T.