Tuesday, 2 February 2021 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day of Consecrated Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which takes place exactly forty days after the beginning of the Christmas season, the fortieth day since the twenty-fifth day of December. Today traditionally marks the end of the Christmas season and celebrations, and in the traditional Roman calendar, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated, when mothers like the Blessed Virgin Mary are welcomed back to the Temple forty days after giving birth.

This day, we celebrate the day when the Lord was presented to the world, especially to the Jewish people, a revelation of God’s salvation to them, represented by the man of God, Simeon and the old prophetess Anna. This is in parallel to what we have celebrated a few weeks earlier in the Solemnity of the Epiphany, marking the revelation of the Christ to the Gentiles through the Three Magi.

In this celebration today, we mark the moment God revealed His salvation to His people, fulfilling the promises He had made to them through His prophets, and we heard of all the things that had happened at that time, how Simeon and Anna both said that the Child would be the great Sign and the Light of God’s salvation to all. The long wait for the promised salvation had therefore been over.

And the Lord Jesus was presented to the Lord at His Temple in accordance with the Law which stated that all the firstborn sons ought to be presented and dedicated to God. This is also especially unique because this Child was none other than the Son of God Himself, Who was therefore in fact, presented to His heavenly Father, dedicated and committed to the mission entrusted in Him for the salvation of the whole world.

The Son of God has revealed Himself to us, showing the love and compassion of God, and we are all called to embrace this love and compassion, and to turn towards Him and looking up to Him, remembering and realising just how fortunate each and every one of us have been to have this loving gift of salvation from God. Thanks to Him, we can have hope once again.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we also celebrate the occasion of the World Day of Consecrated Life, remembering particularly all those who have followed in the Lord’s footsteps by dedicating themselves wholeheartedly in consecrating their lives to God just as the Lord has been presented at the Temple and was consecrated for the mission entrusted to Him.

Those who have been called to the Consecrated Life are those brothers and sisters of ours who committed their lives wholly to God, who desire nothing else but to serve God and glorify Him by their lives. They spent their whole lives living together in faithful communities, either cloistered in the monasteries or living in a community of brothers and sisters dedicated in serving the people of God.

Today all of us thank the Lord for the gift of the dedication of these fellow brothers and sisters of ours, and of course we also show them our appreciation as well. We pray for all of them that they can stay committed in their calling and ministry, in whatever it is that they are doing, through prayers and actions, and we pray that there will be more of those whom God had called who will respond to the call to Consecrated Life and live a holy life befitting of those whom God had called and chosen.

May the Lord continue to guide those whom He had called and chosen, and may He strengthen their faith and give them the courage to persevere through the various challenges in life. May He also awaken in more among us to respond to His call, that more and more men and women may come to join the Consecrated Life, and be inspiration in faith for everyone of us. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 February 2021 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day of 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.”

Tuesday, 2 February 2021 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day of 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!

Tuesday, 2 February 2021 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day of 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.

Alternative reading

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.

Sunday, 2 February 2020 : 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 Sunday we celebrate a special occasion as it falls on the second day in the month of February, that is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord celebrating the moment when Our Lord Jesus Christ was brought to the Temple of God in Jerusalem to be offered and presenter to God in accordance to the laws of God revealed through Moses. In that Law, all the firstborn sons of the Israelites are to be dedicated to God, and thus, Jesus as the firstborn Son of Mary and His legal foster-father St. Joseph, was presented to the Lord.

This day is also commemorated in the Traditional Roman Calendar and in the Extraordinary Form as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, according to the tradition of the Jewish law in which a mother who have just given birth has to abstain herself from coming to the House of God as the blood discharge from the birth process was an impurity that needed to be purified first, and on the fortieth day after the birth of the child, the mother was to be brought to the Temple to be purified. And today marks the fortieth day since Christmas, the time when Mary had her ritual purification and also when the Child Jesus was presented before the Lord at His Temple.

Traditionally therefore, mirroring the celebration of Easter that lasts for fifty days, today, the second day of February marks the final ending of the Christmas season, as from here on henceforth, the liturgical readings and celebrations focus on the ministry and works of the Lord rather than His childhood and early years. And today we also know this celebration as the Candlemas, because by our Church traditions, candles are presented in this Holy Mass and blessed, symbolic of what we celebrate today.

This is because on this day, we celebrate Our Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who was offered and presented before God, His heavenly Father, and also being revealed to the people of Israel. If the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord a few weeks ago focused on the revelation of the Messiah to the Gentiles and the pagan nations, then it is at this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord that Christ was revealed to the Jewish people, through the actions of Simeon the elder, who proclaimed that the Child he was holding, is the Holy One of God long awaited by the people.

The blessing of candles to be used for the year in today’s Holy Mass and also the tradition of procession of candles today came about from the words of Simeon himself as we heard in our Gospel passage today, that Christ is the ‘Light for the revelation to the people of many nations or the Gentiles’, emphasising His role as the Saviour of not just the Israelites, but also of the whole world. And therefore, the blessed candles represents Jesus Christ Himself, Our Lord, that later on we will bring into our homes, signifying the arrival of Christ, the Light of the nations and Saviour, into our homes and families.

The prophetess Anna who were there with Simeon also reemphasised what Simeon had said, both filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. They proclaimed the coming of God’s salvation to His people and how they should wait no longer for the Lord has come to save them, through that seemingly innocent and frail Child brought to be offered to the Lord at the Temple that day. It was also a fulfilment of what the Lord had spoken through His prophet Malachi as we heard in our first reading today, speaking of the coming of His Saviour preceded by His messengers of truth.

Simeon and Anna were the ones who proclaimed this truth to all those gathered on that day, revealing the truth of the Messiah, the One Who would save the Lord’s people. And then, we are also brought to an even deeper appreciation of the significance of this moment of Presentation of the Lord, because according to the Jewish traditions and the Law of Moses, one cannot be considered lawfully as the member of the people of Israel unless the precepts and commandments were obeyed, and Jesus as the firstborn Son being presented to the Lord was among these.

And in both the first reading today as well as in our second reading from the Epistle to the Hebrews, we heard the emphasis of the Lord Jesus as the High Priest Who was to offer the sacrificial offerings favourable and delightful to God, for the salvation of the whole world and all of us mankind. As we heard from the author of the Epistle of the Hebrews, in order to become the High Priest to save all of us, He has to be like us in all things, and to obey the precepts of the Law so that through His proper presentation as what we celebrate today, He was inducted to this High Priesthood before God.

In the ancient times, since the Jewish priesthood was introduced through the laws of Moses, those who were to be made and ordained as priests of the Lord were to be offered and consecrated to God. And it was the same process that Christ went through in His presentation. Simeon and Anna proclaimed this revelation of truth, that Jesus was to be the High Priest of all, to be the one to absolve and redeem all mankind from their sins just as the priests of the Lord offered the animal sacrifices for the temporary remission and forgiveness of the people’s sins.

This prefigured what the Lord was about to do in order to save us all, by offering a worthy sacrifice for our sake. And unlike the past offerings of lambs and animals that could only bring a small and temporary relief from sin, this sacrifice and offering that Christ was to offer, was in a single moment and time, to absolve all the combined weight of all the sins of all the people of the world, past, present and future, by the shedding of His Precious Blood and by the offering of His own Precious Body on the Altar of the Cross.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord today, we are called to remember Christ, our Eternal High Priest, Lord and God and His ultimate sacrifice of love, made in the supreme act of worthy sacrifice and total obedience to the will of God, His heavenly Father. By the obedience of Christ, Who gave it His all for the sake of our salvation, all of us have received pardon from our sins and the salvation from God.

That is why today we truly give thanks to God for having given us all such a great and wonderful Saviour Who manifested God’s boundless love for us in such an amazing way. As we bring home our blessed candles today, we remember to bring Christ, the Light of the world, into our families and homes, that through sharing in His light we may be brought out of the darkness that encompass us and darkened our lives all these while.

And today, in addition, we also celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life, remembering all those who have given themselves to a life consecrated to God, namely all those who are in religious congregations, all the religious brothers and sisters who committed themselves to a life of purity and service, prayer and commitment to God. They have offered and presented themselves to the Lord imitating the example of Christ Himself, dedicating themselves solely to the purpose of glorifying God and obeying His will.

Today therefore we pray for all of them and ask that God will continue to guide them and be with all of them that each and every one of them will remain strong in persevering in their faith and dedication to God. We pray that each and every one of those in consecrated life will be our good inspiration and example of how we can live our lives virtuously in accordance with God’s will, and serve God with all of our hearts.

There are plenty of challenges facing those who live in consecrated life in our world today, especially in a world filled with so much materialism and emphasis on pleasure and worldly form of enjoyment and happiness, a world filled with ego and ambition, pride and immorality among other things. The number of people who gave themselves to consecrated life to God has dwindled tremendously in the past decades, and many of those whom God had called are facing plenty of distractions and temptations, as are those who are already in the consecrated life.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice today in the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and also the Purification of Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, let us first of all bring Christ into our families and homes that He may sanctify our homes and families, and bring us all closer to God, and from there on, seeds of good vocations will rise, be it for the building of good families for those who have been called to holy, married life, or for the vocations of holy priesthood, and of course as mentioned, those who are called to the consecrated life as religious brothers and sisters.

Let us all help one another to be more faithful to God and inspire each other to live according to God’s will and obeying His laws and commandments as revealed to us through His Church. Let us all put God at the centre of our lives from now on and let Christ’s light shine in our lives that we may be bright and beautiful beacons of His light in our world today, calling many more people among the nations to be the disciples of the Lord by our faith and obedience to God. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 2 February 2020 : 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.”

Sunday, 2 February 2020 : 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.

Sunday, 2 February 2020 : 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!

Sunday, 2 February 2020 : 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.