Message: There will be a lot rituals today at MetLife
stadium. Enjoy them, but remember your priorities.
Someone has put out a T-shirt that says, “God, Family
and the Seahawks…in that order.” Today’s Feast can help
us get things in their right order. It’s a nice coincidence
that the Super Bowl falls on the Feast of the Presentation. So let’s talk about how this Feast can help us rightly order our lives.
First of all, let me say I do not want to dampen anyone’s fun. I’ll certainly be rooting for the home team and, all in all, sports are a good. But, like anything good, we need to place the right value on sports. You will agree, I am sure, that God and family are more important than the Seahawks. At the same time, what we know in our minds does not always play in out the way we live our lives.
The Feast of the Presentation will help us live our priorities. One way it does that is by showing how keeping track of dates can be part of honoring God. Today, February 2, is exactly forty days since Christmas. If you add the days between Christmas and New Years (7), the month of January (31) and the first two days of February, you reach a total of 40.
I have asked groups of children – and adults – if they know what happened forty days after Jesus’ birth. They give all kinds of wild guesses, but seldom the correct answer. We have it in today’s Gospel: the purification of Mary and the presentation of Jesus.
After childbirth the mother remained apart for forty days. This custom may have emerged for very practical reasons. The birth of child brings enormous joy, but also great pain and stress. The mother needs time to recover physically and emotionally. While the amount of time varies from woman to woman, forty days seems like a good average.
So, forty days after Jesus’ birth, Mary received the rites of purification. They did not imply any sin, but rather physical and emotional re-integration into the community.
Like any Jewish couple, Joseph and Mary kept careful track of the days since the birth of their child. It meant an end to the mother’s days of seclusion, but it also meant something significant for the child.
At the same time the mother was “purified,” the parents presented their first-born male child. Parents who possessed sufficient resources offered a lamb, but the poor could substitute a pair of pigeons.* Thus Joseph and Mary fulfilled the rite which extended back to the Escape from Egypt (c. 1250 B.C.). They identified themselves as members of a chosen people.
This sense of identity and belonging also is part of the Super Bowl. People in Seattle and Denver feel pride that their home team made it to the big game. It’s a fairly harmless form of pride because (even though we talk about the importance of the “twelfth man”) we know that we can take little or no personal credit. The Jewish people likewise the pride in their identity. The rituals speak about their relationship to God and the world. The Presentation signifies dependence of God and dedication to him. It means to put God first and to see everything in relation to Him.
The Presentation also involved a family celebration. No doubt, for a couple like Joseph and Mary, it was a modest affair – but still a celebration infused with joy. Just so, for the early Christians today was a joyful day. They celebrated it by having a candle-light procession. Here is how one writer describes this day:
“Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole world radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go out to meet Christ.”
Now, you and I will be seeing a lot of rituals today – not candle processions, but there will be plenty of rituals at MetLife stadium. Enjoy them, but remember your priorities. Maybe today your family can find time for another small ritual: light a candle in your home. Tonight, after the game is over – whoever wins – light a candle. Like Simeon we can say, “My eyes have seen your salvation…a light of revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.” Amen.
*No doubt the early Christians saw an irony: the parents who could not afford a lamb, present the true Lamb of God.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
February 2, 2014
Presentation of the Lord
The parents of Jesus, faithful to the prescriptions of the law given to Moses, bring their child Jesus to Jerusalem in order to present him to the Lord through the observance of the appointed temple ritual. A man named Simeon, also a faithful Jew inspired by the Holy Spirit, came to believe that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. He took the baby Jesus in his arms recognizing him to be the promised one who would bring salvation not only to Israel, but to all people. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary that she would know a deep sorrow.
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord: He Shared Fully in Our Humanity
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This feast returns us to the Christmas season focusing in on the person of the Lord. Jesus is seen as a child, presented to the priests according to the law of Moses. You may remember that the final plague upon the Egyptians to force them to let the children of Israel go was the killing of the first born. The Angel of Death came into Egypt, but passed over the children of Israel. Since the first born of the children of Israel were spared the plague, they were seen as belonging to the Lord.
The Presentation of the Lord
I recently led a group of pilgrims to Jerusalem. As we stood at the foot of the Temple Mount and remembered the Presentation of Jesus, several people had questions. There were questions about the redemption of the first-born son. About the rite of purification after childbirth. About how to put Matthew and Luke together in terms of chronology and geography—Bethlehem, the Temple in Jerusalem, the flight into Egypt, and the return to Nazareth.
Desiring Heaven Where Love is Complete
I remember sitting with my father in a boat on the middle of a still prairie lake. It was August of 1969 and I was sixteen years old. A cool mist rose from the surface of the lake that August morning. Fishing was good just after sunrise and so there we sat still half-asleep, casting our lines into the water.
It was the last summer he and I would have together.
What are celibacy, chastity, and continence? 9 things to know and share
There is a great deal of confusion about what celibacy, chastity, and continence are.
Each one of these concepts is subject to common misunderstandings, but the differences between them are easy to sort out.
A reader from the Asian country of Myanmar writes:
A Biblical teaching on the problem of (self) Deception
One of the more troublesome and damaging human traits is the tendency for us to be deceived. Scripture speaks often of this problem, and we do well to look to some of the texts and see what they have to teach us.
Perhaps, it is good it first to look to the Latin and Greek roots of the word “deceive.”
10 Reasons Why Being Catholic Is Wicked Awesome
1. Civil disobedience. In refusing to obey laws that are unjust, we show the world that there are more important things in life than just getting along. When necessary we march, picket, and if it comes to it, we will even be thrown in jail or killed for our beliefs:
“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square” -Cardinal George of Chicago
Jesus Wants More Than “Fans”
Perhaps you’ve heard it said, or even said it yourself: “I wish people would get excited about Christ and the Gospel, the way they get excited about the Super Bowl! Why can’t we bring that kind of enthusiasm to the things that are most important?”
10 Reasons Why Many Catholics Would Stop Going To Church If Jesus Was Their Pastor
1.He expects radical commitment and he never will shy away from demanding it from those who say they follow Him.
Here are just 2 examples:
**“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -Matt 5:11-12
**”I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven” -Matt 5:44-45