Monday, 2 February 2015 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day for Consecrated Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ, when our Lord Jesus Christ, the Firstborn Son of Mary, His mother, was presented to the Lord, as written and prescribed by the Law revealed through Moses. And in that presentation and consecration, the Lord was recognised by His faithful servants, Simeon and Anna, who had waited very long for the fulfillment of God’s promise to them, that they would see the Messiah and Lord.

Today we celebrate the day of prayer and celebration for all of those who have committed themselves to the Lord in a holy and devoted life, namely all of the religious men and women, who had joined the various orders designed to be the societies where those men and women can live their lives meaningfully and devotedly according to the ways and rules laid out for them, that they maintain their purity and worthiness before the Lord.

These holy men and women face difficult challenges, even more than all of us do. This is because they have consecrated themselves to the service of God, following in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Himself, who was presented as the Firstborn One at the Temple. Jesus is the Firstborn of all creations, the One begotten not created by the Father. He became Man so that as High Priest, He would offer the perfect sacrifice of Himself as the Lamb of sacrifice for the reparation of all our sins.

And so, the faithful religious and all those who have dedicated and given themselves to be consecrated to God, namely every single one of our priests, who have been taken from the world and as in our first reading today by the prophet Malachi had mentioned, they have been taken and molded in the Lord’s hands, to be made pure and holy, blameless and worthy, purified and refined, as if gold and silver, to be the ones to offer the same sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of Calvary that liberated all of us from the thrall of sin and death.

Yes, while the priests of Israel of old, from the tribe of Levi offered the sacrifice of animals, the blood and the fats of lambs, calves, goats and turtledoves, and while they offered the goods and products of the land, for the sake of their own sins first and then for the sake of the sins of the people, that they may be forgiven. But this sacrifice is temporary, for no amount of animal blood and offerings may remove from us the enormous weight of our sins combined.

Jesus has been offered and consecrated to God, not because He was a sinner or having any form of sins or disobedience in Him. He was consecrated because just as the priests of Israel of old were consecrated, be made pure and ready to serve the Lord at His altar and offer the sacrifices for the sake of the people, then Christ Himself also offered the sacrifice, the greatest sacrifice of them all, that is the sacrifice of Himself on the cross for our sake.

And all of us have been saved by that sacrifice, where our Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself all of our sins, and as our Great High Priest, He offered the sacrifice for the reparation of all our sins, with exception of one difference, that this sacrifice no longer needs to be repeated again and again. It was because that sacrifice is the only one worthy enough to absolve all of our sins, past, present and future all at once. After all, who else is worthy beside the Lamb of God, the Divine Word of God who gave up all to save us?

And it was in the service of this Great One that all of our priests and the religious, all those who have consecrated themselves to be His servants, that they live this life of holiness, prayer and dedicated service to God. Jesus was consecrated to be an example to all of us, as the High Priest dedicated to God, that all of us who are called to serve, also follow in His footsteps and dedicate ourselves as well.

And different people have different roles and calling. But they all serve the one purpose, that is to bring mankind closer to God, their Lord and loving Father. It is to bring about the reconciliation between God and mankind that they are called for. And indeed, their responsibility and duty is not an easy one, for just as they themselves are tempted as we are tempted, we also like to refuse to follow and obey God’s commandments.

Therefore, their life is one of a constant battle and challenge, struggle against Satan and all of his forces, and they have to bear with all these with prayer, with patience and with dedication that requires our support and help. Our religious and priests need our help, for they are the ones who have consecrated themselves for our sake. And why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because they are the ones who stand as the vanguard in the battle for the sake of our souls, protecting and guiding us to the truth of Christ.

Let us also follow in their footsteps and model our words, actions and deeds on theirs and ultimately to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. May all of us be sanctified and be made holy through what we are doing in this life, and let us all shun all forms of sin and accept the fullness of Christ’s truth and love into our lives. Pray for each other, especially for all of our priests and all the religious brothers and sisters committing their lives to God. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 2 February 2015 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day for Consecrated Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 22-40

When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : ‘Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.’ And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord.

So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a sign, a sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom : the grace of God was upon Him.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 2 : 22-32

When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : ‘Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.’ And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord.

So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

Monday, 2 February 2015 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day for Consecrated Life (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 2 : 14-18

And because all those children share one same nature of flesh and blood, Jesus likewise had to share this nature. This is why His death destroyed the one holding the power of death, that is the devil, and freed those who remained in bondage all their lifetime because of the fear of death.

Jesus came to take by the hand not the angels but the human race. So He had to be like His brothers and sisters in every respect, in order to be the High Priest faithful to God and merciful to them, a Priest able to ask pardon and atone for their sins. Having been tested through suffering, He is able to help those who are tested.

Monday, 2 February 2015 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day for Consecrated Life (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 23 : 7, 8, 9, 10

Lift up, o gateways, your lintels, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? The Lord, the Strong, the Mighty, the Lord, valiant in battle.

Lift up Your lintels, o gateways, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of glory!

Monday, 2 February 2015 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day for Consecrated Life (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Malachi 3 : 1-4

Now I am sending My messenger ahead of Me to clear the way; then suddenly the Lord for whom you long will enter the sanctuary. The Envoy of the covenant which you so greatly desire already comes, says YHVH of hosts.

Who can bear the day of His coming and remain standing when He appears? For He will be like fire in the foundry and like the lye used for bleaching. He will be as a refiner or a fuller. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. So YHVH will have priests who will present the offering as it should be.

Then YHVH will accept with pleasure the offering of Judah and Jerusalem, as in former days.