HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF OUR LORD.
On this Feast Joseph and Mary went to the Temple in order to fulfil the requirements of the Jewish law. Essential to the Jewish religion was the praise of God in all of human life. They received God’s blessing through Simeon and Anna. Joseph & Mary were introducing their son into a faith community just as parents do when they bring their child for baptism. This Feast reminds us of the way in which our senior citizens, young parents and the baby who is presented are all involved in that unbroken chain of faith. On this Feast we pray that we will be alert and appreciative of those who have passed on the faith to us and that we will be responsible for transmitting that faith to those who come after us.
Today the pressures of secularism and modern life have reduced the significance of religious observances in the lives of many Christians. As a result God would seem to have receded from the awareness and experience of everyday life. Many assume that God is found only in certain places, in sacred buildings. Their lives, on the other hand, move in a secular realm which is so often devoid of a sense of the sacred. As a result their experiences are reduced and impoverished. They have no meaning beyond themselves, there is no opening to the divine, or to God.
It is a great challenge to all of us today to find effective means to celebrate the presence of God in our ordinary human lives. We need to learn to greet the morning with gratitude; to celebrate the goodness of food, family and friendship at meal times; to recognise our creator in the beauty of a morning sunrise or the evening sunset; to recognise our sense of freedom and the responsibility that accompanies it.
Today is also a World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, a day when we honour and pray for all those who live that life. Our Archdiocese of Tuam and the Church throughout the world has been encouraged, supported and challenged by women and men who devoted themselves to God in Consecrated Life. They declared their generous availability to God as they committed themselves to the various ministries in education, nursing, parish ministry, working with the under-privileged and many of them living the Contemplative Life.
Were it not for the faithful service of these religious women and men, then the landscape of our Churh would be very impoverished indeed. They have served and continue to serve as a beacon of hope, broadening our horizon, providing us with a sense of perspective and enabling us to catch glimpses of the Lord in a busy and at times very confused world.
Today we pray that those in Consecrated Life will continue to help us to recognise Jesus Christ as our Messiah in our fractured culture just as Simeon and Anna are the ones who recognise the baby Jesus as the Messiah in the arms of Mary and Joseph.