The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
[Scripture Readings: Mal 3:1-4; Heb 2:14-18; Lk 2:22-40]
Today’s feast is all about presence and recognition, two things we are all
familiar with and take for granted. We recognize each other’s presence-our
physical presence, our emotional presence. We even speak of someone having an
imposing presence or an air of authority. But today’s feast invites us to a
deeper experience of presence. The presence that only faith can recognize.
The presence of the Divine in the human. The feast recounts the presentation
of Jesus in the Temple.
Just on the level of what our eyes can see, Jesus was an ordinary Jewish
child an ordinary Jewish man who died a criminal’s death. But to the eyes of
faith, we see the mystery of the Divine in the human.
The candles we received and held in our hands represent the light of
faith-the illumination of our eyes-the recognition faith brings to our life.
Things are not as they appear. Recognition and appearance are not the same.
Appearances are deceiving. We all know this, but it is still a wonder when we
are surprised by the beauty of the Divine in the human.
Several years ago there was a group of high school students here on retreat.
We usually don’t accept high school students on retreat because they tend to
be noisy and restless. About three days is their limit. This group was true
to form. By the third morning I could tell they wanted to get out of here. To
look at them, they looked like any group of teenagers. To be honest, they
didn’t look like they had a thought in their heads. But appearance is
deceiving. I asked them to write down a paragraph or two on their experience
of three days in a monastery retreat house. I was astounded at the depths of
One boy wrote:
“My monastic experience has been one I never will forget. I very recently lost
an old friend of mine in a motorcycle accident. On the way down here my
emotions ranged from joy and excitement to sadness and depression. When we
arrived, I feared the silence because I had nothing from keeping me from
thinking of my friend’s death. When we went into the chapel for the first
time for Compline, I sat there afterwards and cried silently for my friend.
Then, as God always seems to do for me, I saw the candle over the tabernacle
and was awestruck. The symbolism of that lone flickering light was amazing. I
suddenly thought that each one of us has one of these lights inside of them,
the candle symbolizing our soul. This light is blown about by sin and
temptation and strengthened by faith in God and good works. This light, like
the candle, will burn always in the hearts and minds of others. This
comforted me because it helped me come to the realization that even though my
friend is dead; he will never die as long as the people who loved him
“He will ever die as long as the people who loved him remember him.” At this
Eucharist we are the ones who love Jesus and remember him. Our remembrance
brings his presence to us. What we call the “Real Presence.”
Appearances are deceiving. The bread and wine are the body and blood of
Christ. The body and blood are the love Christ has for the Father and for us.
Handed over and poured out for us and our salvation.