Saturday, 2 February 2019 : 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, on this day we celebrate together the great feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which is celebrated every second day of the month of February, which is also the fortieth day after Christmas. Today, traditionally is the last day in the whole of the Christmas season, in which the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, and earlier on, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, marked the transition from the celebration of the birth and the early life of the Lord Jesus, towards His public ministry and eventually to the upcoming season of Lent preparing us for the eventual coming of Easter.

On this day we recall the moment when the Lord was brought to the Temple of Jerusalem as mandated by the Law, and offered to the Lord as the firstborn of the family. This was the day when the Lord was presented officially before His people, when the relationship between Him, as the Son of God, was presented before His Father, symbolising the mission which He was about to take upon, as the Saviour of the world and of all mankind. He was consecrated to the Lord, His heavenly Father, to become the one true High Priest of all.

All of these were mentioned in the book of the prophets of old, including the proclamation by the prophet Malachi in our first reading today, that God would send to mankind His deliverance and salvation through the High Priest He would appoint to be the Envoy and Mediator of the new Covenant He would make with His beloved people. And in the second reading today, taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Jewish Christians were reassured of the High Priesthood of Christ, the fulfilment of God’s ancient prophecies, that He would save His people, and all these had happened through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

And the wonders of God’s mighty works lie in the very fact that He chose this way in order to save us His beloved ones, by directly embracing us with love, coming in the flesh and becoming as one of us, assuming the form and substance of Man, so that by uniting our own humanity with His, He would be able to offer the perfect sacrifice offering of love, to be the atonement for all of our sins, of the combined weight of humanity’s sins, past, present and future till the end of time. He did this, by becoming the High Priest Who redeemed us, once and for all by His loving sacrifice on the cross.

In order to understand and appreciate the significance of this event better, we must understand the role of the priesthood in the ancient Israel, where priests had been chosen from among the descendants of Aaron of the tribe of Levi. The priests were entrusted with the role of intermediary between God and His people, to be the ones who would bring God’s people back towards Him, by the offering of sacrificial offerings, the blood of animals, of goats, lambs and pigeons.

And there was, in Christ, a far greater, more worthy and more wonderful sacrifice and offering, the offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, acting by Himself as the High Priest, offering those worthy offerings for the atonement of all of our sins, of mankind throughout all time and ages. He established therefore a new Covenant between God and us mankind, sealed not in the blood of lambs and imperfect animals, but with His own Most Precious Blood, the Blood of the Lamb of God.

Today, as we recall the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple of Jerusalem, we are looking towards the Lord’s role in our salvation, remembering how our one and true High Priest laid Himself on the altar of the cross, bearing all the multitudes of our sins and impurities, our iniquities and unworthiness, so that by His perfectly selfless and loving action, all of us who place our trust and faith in Him may be saved, by our faith in Him.

We recall the love that He has for each and every one of us, that He was willing to endure such pain and suffering for our sake. He endured all the wounds and troubles for the sake of our salvation. Every single wounds that have been inflicted on the Lord are caused by the sins we have committed, whenever we have caused suffering on others, or because of our selfishness and greed that lead us ever deeper into the chasm of wickedness and sin.

But the Lord loved us so much, that He gave us the gift of His Son, our High Priest and Saviour, through Whom we have received the opportunity to achieve redemption and eternal life. And this He has extended to us through His priesthood, the ministerial priesthood that He has established within His Church, to become in His persona, the intermediary between us and God. He called those whom He deemed to be worthy, to become His priests, bishops and all those ordained to the holy orders, to offer at the celebration of the Holy Mass, the same sacrifice He has done at Calvary.

Through our priests and all those who have been consecrated to God, including all those who have devoted themselves to the religious life and life dedicated to God’s glory, we have seen the light of Christ in our midst, despite all the darkness of mankind’s sins and iniquities. Through the examples and perseverance of all those who have lived their lives with faith, imitating Christ’s own obedience and loving sacrifice, we have seen the light of our salvation, and have hope in us.

There are also many of those who have also dedicated themselves to a life of prayer, prayers dedicated to many of us, and to holy life that brings about much inspiration to the rest of us the faithful people of God. They have followed the example and commitment of Christ, and become inspiration to us all. They spent their days and time in prayer, and go about everything in life, centering themselves so completely on God.

That is why, today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must spend time to pray, and not just today, but each and every days from now on, for those who have dedicated themselves to the Lord and lived a consecrated life in God. We should give our full support and also encouragement to them, for indeed, as difficult as our faith life may be, with all of the temptations and challenges, they have even more difficulties in all of them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us all renew our commitment to love and serve the Lord with zeal, courage and faith, especially because of the wonderful love that He has shown us all. Let us all heed His call, and do our best in whatever we do, in order to do His will and devote ourselves to His cause. And let us continue to support the efforts and good works of the Church, particularly those who have been called to the holy orders and consecrated life. May God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 2 February 2019 : 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.”

Saturday, 2 February 2019 : 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.

Saturday, 2 February 2019 : 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? YHVH, the Strong, the Mighty, YHVH, 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? YHVH of Hosts, He is the King of glory!

Saturday, 2 February 2019 : 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.

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we marked a great occasion with celebration the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Temple of God in Jerusalem. This day marks the fortieth day since the Solemnity of Christmas Day and traditionally marked the end of the Christmas season. This brings us another reminder that as the liturgical year moves on from the celebration of Christ’s birth towards His Passion and suffering and death during the Holy Week, we should reflect more deeply on His life and His actions.

On this day we remember the moment when the Lord was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem, to be presented and consecrated to God, in accordance to the laws of Moses, as St. Joseph and Mary were law-abiding and devout believer in God. All the firstborn sons of Israel must be offered to God and consecrated to Him, as a sign of the continuing covenant between Him and His people.

Jesus is the firstborn Son of Mary and St. Joseph, and although St. Joseph might have had another child from a previous marriage, or that St. Joseph was not the biological father of the Lord Jesus but merely His foster-father, yet legally he is the father of the Lord Jesus, and for that, Jesus was, in accordance of the law, to be consecrated to God in the Temple.

Jesus was presented to the Lord as the perfect and worthy sacrificial victim, presaging His sacrifice on the cross, by which He was to save the whole world and bring all those who believed in Him into eternal life and salvation. The prophet Simeon and the seer Anna, the prophetess were there at the Temple, and they welcomed the Lord Who came to His people, fulfilling His promises to them.

They told Mary and St. Joseph all that the Baby Jesus would come to do in due time, to save the people by His wondrous deeds, ultimately His loving sacrifice on the cross. It must have been hard for them to believe in all these at first, but they, particularly Mary, treasured all these things in her heart and kept their faith in what God had planned for all of them.

In the second reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, or the Jewish Christians spoke about Jesus as the High Priest of all the people. This is a common recurring theme he used throughout that Epistle to the Hebrews, referring to the Lord Jesus as the one and true High Priest, through Whom God willed to bring His people to salvation and liberation from all of their sins and to rescue them from their downfall.

In the past, the priests of Israel offered regular sacrifices of animal offerings, the offerings of blood, fats and others for the purpose of the reconciliation between God and His people, as the blood of the animals outpoured would symbolise the cleansing of the sins of the people, supposedly paid for by the blood of the offerings and also marked the renewal of the Covenant between God and His people.

However, those priests needed to offer the gifts and sacrificial offerings again and again because those offerings of bulls, rams and goats cannot have brought about the liberation of us mankind from all of our sins. The only One with the authority, power and ability to liberate us from the multitudes of our sins is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, Son of God and Saviour of the whole world.

That is because He offered not the blood of animals and creatures, but rather His own Precious and Divine Blood, offered on the altar of sacrifice at Calvary. He willingly and voluntarily surrendered Himself to suffering and death, so that by His death, and later on, glorious resurrection, He could save all the people, and redeem all of them from their sins and wickedness.

That is His loving gift to all of us, which we commemorate every time we celebrate the Holy Mass. The Lord Himself has become our eternal High Priest, offering for our sake the oblations for the purification of our souls, bodies, hearts and minds. There is nothing more worthy or precious than the selfless offering of love, made by none other than Jesus, the Saviour of all mankind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day it is good for us to pray for all those who have dedicated their lives to serve the Lord and to serve His people in the same way as those who live a consecrated life, the religious priests, brothers and sisters and all those who have devoted their whole lives to serve the Lord as a member of the religious orders and also institutes of consecrated life.

They have answered the Lord’s call to a life dedicated to Him, following the examples set by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself. Just as Jesus has been consecrated and presented to God, dedicating His whole earthly life and existence to follow and obey His Father’s will, all the way to the cross and to Calvary, where He obeyed His Father’s will and died for all of us, our courageous religious brothers and sisters and all who lived a consecrated life have sacrificed a lot for the sake of us all and for the Church.

Let us all pray for them and give them our support and encouragement, our fullest backing and prayers, that they may continue to persevere in doing what the Lord had called them to do, be it in the ministry to God’s people in various capacities, in the Catholic education and evangelisation, in prayerful life in cloisters and monasteries, and many more. Let us all give our support to them, and from among us, those who among us whom the Lord has called, let us all discern carefully and thoughtfully what God wants us to do with our lives.

Let us all, each and every one of us renew our commitment to the Lord, each and every days of our life. May the Lord empower each one of us to live faithfully in whichever vocations and directions which He has led us to. May the Lord, Whose presentation and consecration at the Temple we remember today, will always bless us and strengthen us in our resolve to live ever more committed and devoutly in God. Amen.

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (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.”