Pastor's Pen, Presentation of The Lord

When I was still in Jamaica, the Father General of the Jesuits, Fr Nicolas, spoke to us of a problem we have in the Jesuits.  He said we are good at celebrating our successes.  For example, he said when a Jesuit publishes a new book, his Community holds a sort of “victory” party.  He went on, however, to say that we are not good at celebrating our failures.  For example, a Jesuit may labour for decades at a particular mission and not see many fruits from his work.  When he finishes, there is typically silence or even suggestions of critique. We love success and disdain failure.  The problem with all this, even though it seems pretty clear that most of us prefer to succeed, is that we can miss what is most important.  And what is most important is fidelity, of seeking to be faithful no matter the situation or the difficulty.  In this week’s readings, we hear of the Lord’s appearance among us.  The Prophet Malachi proclaims that “the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.  The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight – indeed, he is coming.”  In the Letter to the Hebrews, the author writes “it is clear that Jesus did not come to help Angels, but the descendants of Abraham.” With the Presentation in the Temple, Simeon declares “my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.”  For us, the presence of the Lord does not end with his merely being present.  Rather, it is for us to reflect on the quality of his presence.  How was and is Christ present to us?

In both the Second Reading and the Gospel, there is the mention of suffering which accompanies the Lord’s presence.  Hebrews reads, “Because Jesus himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”  Saint Luke says that Christ will “be a sign that will be opposed” and that “a sword will pierce” Mary’s soul as well.  In our own lives, it would be hard to relate to a God who did not know what it is to shed tears over loss or frustration, to continue living when all seems not to make much sense.  It is so important for us to know that we are not called to successes but to seek to be faithful.  It is not for us to think that our life is meant to be a work of struggling alone.  We know that our God has experienced similar struggles, anxieties and uncertainties about what to do.  We then know that our path to God and is in the footsteps of Christ’s love.  We delight in Christ as our God because he delights in each of us.  God does not desire monuments of our accomplishments.  God is not disappointed by our failures.  God delights in you and will go to any measure to express and share this truth of faith.  We move towards God through God’s love.  And we move with this love with arms outstretched – desiring to embrace our Lord and each other.  This upcoming week we have lots of chances to embrace with the different activities surrounding the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes: there is a dance, Novena, Mass, colouring pictures of Mary and a movie about Saint Bernadette.  Come and delight in God by delighting in each other.

God Bless and Take Care!

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