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Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Presentation of Jesus


The Presentation of Jesus

While we should be on the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Liturgical Time is not always linear, and today is one of those days. Today the Presentation of the child Jesus in the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary irrupt the flow of ordered (or ordinary) Sundays.

Today is located somewhat between the end of Christmas (40 days after Christmas day, to be exact) and the beginning of Lent. We could say that today’s feast points back to Christmas, when the Light of the world was born, but it also leads forward to Easter, when the Light conquers the darkness of sin and death.

Traditionally, the motif of light is expressed by the blessing of candles which also occurs today, and we celebrate it with a candle procession at the 11:30 AM Mass, symbolizing Simeon's words to Mary and Joseph that Jesus would be "a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel." The devotional group of the Flame of Love, also leads a devotion with candles before the 7:30 AM Mass.

In Mexico, and among Mexicans in this country, this day is celebrated by families and friends eating tamales. The person who prepares (or buys) the tamales is the one who on the feast of the Epiphany was the one to find a small, toy-like figurine of the baby Jesus by cutting into a sweet bread, shaped and decorated to resemble a crown (for the Three Kings or Magi). The figurine had been baked into the sweet bread. This tradition is one culture’s way of teaching that each one of us receives light from the Light in order to become a lamp for others.

Today, I am reminded of my great aunt, Sr. Carmen Ferrer, who is a Presentation sister. Having celebrated 50 years of religious life last year, Sr Carmen, or Tia Carmencita, as we call her, is an example in my family of being a lamp for others. She is in her late 70s, and she has just received an obedience notice from her religious superior to move to a very poor area of Colombia, to continue the mission of her community to bring the light of Christ to others.

God bless, Fr. Carlos, OSA

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