Category: Lesson

The Feast of St. Joseph ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

 

Liturgical Colour: White.

Reading 1: 2 SM 7:4-5A, 12-14A, 16

Responsorial Psalm: PS 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 AND 29

Reading 2: ROM 4:13, 16-18, 22

Gospel: MT 1:16, 18-21, 24A  or: LK 2:41-51A

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today, we come together as the Church to commemorate St. Joseph, the Spouse of The Blessed Virgin Mary, and the foster Father of our Lord and Saviour,Jesus, when he became one of us here upon the Earth.

In the same way in which God, our Heavenly Father, who gives each of us as his children, unconditional love, care, stability and who sets us the standard with which we should strive to live our lives with his holy word in the scriptures, a true Father to each and every single one of us, who only ever wants the very best for all his children.  St. Joseph follows our Father’s example, as both husband and foster father.  He gives us examples which men should follow in their lives. Joseph cared for and provided for the Holy Household. There are many qualities that Joseph had which we could use to be the role model for Christian husbands and fathers. Joseph was a very compassionate man.  We can see an example of this when he suspected his wife of infidelity; he planned to divorce her quietly rather than denounce her publicly and expose her to public shame and penalty.

Joseph was always obedient to God and did what he knew was God’s will without thought or hesitation.  Examples of this are that he kept Mary as his wife; he protected and provided for his family when they had to flee to foreign lands to protect them from danger.

Joseph led a life of deep prayer and was in communion with God, and would always seek out that which was God’s will. God often told Joseph his will using dreams.

Joseph was a provider of care, When Jesus’s life was threatened, Joseph would take them out of danger. He took his family to Egypt and only returned when it was safe to do so, and when Jesus went missing at aged twelve, Joseph went searching for him because obviously, both parents were obviously extremely worried about Jesus’s safety.

Joseph also brought much more to Jesus’s life, he taught him his trade which Jesus worked in for about twenty years, he gave Jesus the love and stability he as any child needs, and was his earthly male role model, which was and still is vitally important for a good father to give any child.

He was a man with a firm faith in God coupled with a resilient personality, who did not complain and was not appalled nor distressed in the midst of trials and tribulations, St. Joseph knew how to face, carry and solve the burden of his vocation, of life’s difficulties and responsibilities with serenity, with complete faith and love, entrusting himself totally and unconditionally to God’s plans.

Sadly not all children are brought up in such a way today, but husbands and fathers truly should seek to follow this sincere man of God in the way they run their lives. Are you married? Do you give all the love, trust and respect to your spouse? Or with stresses and strains do you always argue or not truly make time for each other? If you have children, do you know where they are and if they are safe, or who they might be talking to online? Do you give emotional stability, patience and unconditional love? Do your children see you as the role model they need in a Father?  We should always strive to be as our heavenly Father is to each of us, whether that be to our spouses, to our children, and in fact to all as our brothers and sisters.

While the Gospels do not shed much light on St. Joseph’s life, it is believed that he died before Jesus’ public ministry.

St. Joseph is the patron of fathers, spouses, priests and seminarians. But also, St. Joseph teaches  us so much by his silent example of his life, and just how we should love God faithfully and obediently.

Let us pray:

Blessed St. Joseph, husband of Mary,

be with us this day.

You protected and cherished the Virgin;

loving the Child Jesus as your Son,

you rescued Him from the danger of death.

Defend the Church,

the household of God,

purchased by the Blood of Christ.

Guardian of the Holy Family,

be with us in our trials.

May your prayers obtain for us

the strength to flee from error

and wrestle with the powers of corruption

so that in life we may grow in holiness

and in death rejoice in the crown of victory.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We pray to God through your powerful intercession for all the fathers and spouses in the world so that they may imitate you in your faith, love and fidelity to God and your family.

 

 

 

We entrust to you as well all the families in the world so that they may imitate the virtues lived by the Holy Family of Nazareth and become its faithful image.

 

 

 

Through your intercession, may God shower more vocations to His Church, especially the vocation to priesthood, and may all priests and future priests strive be holy, faithful and apostolic ministers of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Still My Soul~ Br. Chip Noon, Novice

Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side….

Lent and Advent seem to be mirrors of what we do all day, every day, all year, every year: We are waiting, waiting on the Lord. And it also seems like everyone, from Abram in today’s First Reading to you and me, we have been waiting forever.

Now some of us, like myself, are going to say, “OK, I can wait a little longer, if you don’t mind…”, but that is because we believe the words of the hymn that I started with:

Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to they God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul! thy best, they heav’nly Friend
Thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Because we have faith that there will be a peaceful end and a heavenly homeland. Well, most of the time we believe this. Sometimes we…or should I more properly say “I”…mostly believe this. Yes, admittedly, there are days when I have my doubts. Do you? These are day that are usually filled with some physical or emotional travail. Some pain or sorrow that I don’t seem to be able to get away from. And it comes upon me like a dead weight, a frightening phantom, an empty abyss.

Oh it is hard to get away from these terrors.

Abram seemed to need quite a lot of convincing that the Lord was on his side, over much of his life. Today we hear that he had to be shown all the stars in the firmament, five animals to sacrifice, a flaming torch, and God making a covenant with him. And this was God speaking directly to him!

In today’s Psalm, the prophet is on the one hand expressing his belief in God and on the other, bucking himself up to be stouthearted and courageous in the face of anguish. And the Apostle Paul is telling the Philippians, again as he says, to “stand firm in the Lord.”

So it seems as though everyone in the Bible and scriptures needs constant pep-talks, constant reminders of what they believe and what is in store for them.

And isn’t that true in our own lives? We, and almost everyone we know, need pep-talks at one time or another…sometimes many times or another! Throughout literature, history, current affairs, our heroes and  we are buoyed up by some one or some thing and we are buoying up our friends and family. It seems like a constant endeavor. Maybe because it is in our makeup to ride the roller coaster of feelings. I know I am cursed – or blessed – with this phenomenon. I can recount many, many times that I have either needed or given encouragement, with the emphasis on “courage.”

Helping others, this act of friendship which we call comfort or reassurance, is deep-rooted in society, especially in societies such as religious orders. And yes, it is found throughout the New Testament. For example, in 1 Thessalonians Paul says, “Therefore encourage on another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” And Peter: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” And again Paul, in that famous passage: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

And so, in the days of Lent, each day can be a lesson for us, with the Resurrection as the prize. And we should not be hesitant to anticipate that prize, because look, in today’s Gospel, Peter, John, and James were initiated in a way into the divinity of Jesus and as we know, it was not until after the Resurrection that they truly understood and believed, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Even the Transfiguration and the spirits of Moses and Elijah were not enough for them; so much so that they did not tell anyone what they had seen. I’ve always thought that it was so fantastical to them that they were afraid to be thought of as foolish.

But don’t lets us be foolish. Let us remember past Lenten days and past Easters and remember those times God has spoken to us in the quiet of our souls and sing again the old hymn “Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side….”

Lord, thank you for being on our side. As we go through this Lenten season, help us to remember these words every day.

Amen.

Blessings and Woes ~ The Rt. Rev. Jay VanLieshout, OPI

Blessings and Woes

Luke 6:17-26

Like St. Matthew’s Sermon on the mount, St. Luke’s Sermon on the plain also tells of Jesus teaching His disciples an unexpected litany of who is blessed (the Beatitudes); though unlike St. Matthew’s version, St. Luke includes a list of 4 woes (vaes).  It is, therefore, understandable that more people gravitate towards St. Matthew’s rendition, after all, the beatitudes make us feel good about ourselves while the woes, not so much.  Of course Jesus’ teachings often juxtaposed the good with the bad, the ups with the downs, the expected with the unexpected, God’s kingdom with the world, and these lessons were as challenging for the disciples then as they are for us today.

I often think about what Jesus’ message was to the disciples and those people who gathered about when He spoke of those who were blessed as well as those who inspired His woes.  Through the millenia , the church’s interpretation, and indeed general consensus on the meaning of being “blessed” is one of happiness and contentment; we use the term blessings to refer to those worldly situations and possessions which are thought to bring about the state of happiness.  Yet, as Jesus spoke to the diverse crowds of rich and poor, healthy and sick, popular and pariah, content and wanting, it seems that happiness would not have been such a universal truth.  In fact, to those who were poor, hungry, weeping, hated and excluded, insulted and denounced, it is doubtful they would describe their plight as being a state of happiness.  And to the rich, satisfied, cheerful, loved and accepted, praised and exalted, surely they would not  described their lives as woeful.  But the scripture is clear, the former are described as “blessed “and woe is given to the latter.

In this light to be “blessed” must imply something deeper, more spiritual, more meaningful then worldly happiness.  Clearly, the blessings that the Creator has laid upon those who are the world’s most afflicted do not involve the worldly ideals of riches and contentment but, instead, some state of being in an enviable relationship with God.  I liken this state to the relationship of a gravely ill child with their parent.  Though parents may equally and unconditionally love all their children, for those who bear illnesses or challenges beyond that of normal childhood, there is a special parent-child bond, a special celebration of existence which transcends the child’s corporal affliction.  To be blessed by God then, is to be part of this unique Creator-creation bond, a bond of unconditional love that is envied by all others.  When we are weighed down by our own plight, when the world seeks to subjugate us for our differences and humanity has abandoned us as unworthy of existence casting our frail bodies out into the dust of the streets, it is there that find ourselves in the arms of our Creator.  In the depths of human need and frailty, it is our heavenly Father who loves and provides for us and the Holy Spirit who fills our breasts with life, hope, strength and perseverance.  We are cleansed with holy tears shed by the Redeemer, our transgressions are washed away by the blood of God’s lamb and our inequities are erased by the most loving and gracious of sacrifices.  It is there in the Earth’s dust from which we were fashioned that we open our eyes to see the one who created us, the smiling face of our heavenly parent who sees through the veil of our imperfect physical shell seeing only the magnificence that is His creation.

It is no wonder Jesus said woe to those who have found happiness in worldly riches and power.  How He must have grieved to see those given so much by the world, always striving with each step to reach the apex of their ivory towers –steep rocky steps built on pride, greed, desire for power and concern for wordly acceptance.  Alas, if only they could find the humility to reach down and lift up those who lay in the dust, or break bread with those who had none or share a kind word and moment of recognition with the ostracized, then they might understand what it truly means to be “blessed”.

How can we receive God’s love and be so “blessed”?  Does our heavenly Father wish us to become like the poor, hungry, weeping, hated and excluded, insulted and denounced before we might receive His love?  Of course not!  Like any parent, our Father does not wish that we His children should suffer such a plight, but He does wish us to humble ourselves and reach out to those who are ignoble; to reach out to them, touch them, hold them, lift them up and so stand together as brothers and sisters.

There is a little story which I have stumbled upon that goes:

The old Rabbi said, “In olden days there were men who saw the face of God.”
“Why don’t they any more?” a young student asked.
“Because, nowadays no one stoops so low,” he replied.

Oh How true!  Remember Moses went up the mountain, only to be  near God when he knelt down in front of a burning bush and the disciples only began to see the true light of Jesus when they looked down as He washed their feet!  So we too must stoop down low, lower than those we once called our servants, and be servants to them, washing their feet, caring for their needs above our own, healing their wounds and comforting their souls.  For when we lower ourselves so that we might raise up others, it is then that we allow the blessings of God to flow through us and into others and in so doing we too become “blessed”.

Let Down Your Net Into the Water ~ The Rev. Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

Gospel      LK 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening
to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.

 

As Christians we face many challenges in these uncertain times. We want to enjoy life, we want to do things that provide us pleasure and act as if we answer to no one. Unless we are spiritually dead we also experience that vague feeling that we should be doing something that makes a difference in the world, something that lightens someone else’s burden or somehow indicates that we are Christians and care about our fellow man.  Our drive to enjoy life and our drive to help our fellow man come together and challenge us to think about what is important to us. On the surface Luke’s story is about fishing, but I believe it is telling us to move out of our comfort zone and sail into uncharted waters for the sake of Christ and his Kingdom. Jesus instructed the fishermen to take their boats to deeper water and cast their nets out for a catch. These fishermen have been fishing all night with nothing to show for their effort, they were tired, and the last thing they needed was fishing advice from a carpenter. These times were much simpler than today, no fish meant no food to these people. They obeyed Jesus and were pleasantly surprised to catch so many fish that their nets were starting to tear. We assume they were greatly pleased.

You may think of this as one of Jesus’s miracles, but in reality, this is more of a physical lesson than a miracle. The lesson I believe he wished to teach us is that we need to leave our comfort zone (the shallow waters) and venture out into the deeper waters to bring people to Jesus. We like to fish in the shallow familiar waters, seeking like minded people, people who have similar experiences, and share our thoughts and feelings. Jesus wants us to venture into the deeper waters and minister to the people who are on the edge of society, those who are under water and feel as if they are drowning in life. As the song “Let Down Your Net, Down into The Water” says:

Verse: 1
There is some of you diseased and afflicted
and sickness reigns in your mind,
you’ve let the prophets of doubt and unbelief convince you
that Jesus don’t heal the sick and blind. 

Jesus does heal the sick and the blind, we just need to find them, take their hands and lead them to the Lord. Where do we find the sick and the blind? Look around you while swimming in the deeper water. You can most likely find them already in your everyday life, at work, at school, or even in your church. Yes some people are just going through the motions, and hoping they are doing it correctly by attending church. Take their hands, answer their questions, listen to their concerns and lead them to our Lord.

Verse: 2
Your soul is so thirsty, your so battle weary
your body’s weak and tired from the pain,
well it’s time to get up stand up on the bible
he’s pouring out that latter rain. 

Come to the lord and be refreshed, be rejuvenated, and be replenished. The Lord will fill your soul with joy and peace, quench that thirst and take away your pain once and for all.

Don’t worry about the water being too deep, Jesus is your lifesaver!

Lord, in your mercy guide us to the deeper water so that we, with your guidance, may bring others to know your love and peace. Allow us to make ourselves available to you so that you can work miracles through us. Help us to make your church flourish by making us into a lighthouse in our community, guiding others to you. Amen

Blessed Jordan of Saxony

Men prayed for strength to resist Jordan’s burning eloquence, and mothers hid their sons when Master Jordan came to town. Students and masters warned each other of the fatal magnetism of his sermons. The sweetness of his character and the holiness of his life shone through his most casual words in a flame that drew youth irresistibly to the ideal to which he had dedicated his own life. In his 16 years of preaching, Jordan is said to have drawn more than a thousand novices to the Dominican Order, among whom were two future popes, two canonized saints (e.g., Albert the Great), numerous beati, and countless intellectual lights of his dazzling century.

Of Jordan’s childhood, nothing is known, except that he was born of a noble family. He was drawn to the order in 1220 by the preaching of Blessed Reginald, the beloved son of Dominic, brought back from death by Dominic’s and Our Lady’s prayers. Jordan was at that time about 30, a student at the University of Paris, and his reputation for sanctity had preceded him into the order.

He had worn the habit for only two months when he was sent to Bologna as a delegate to the first general chapter of the order. The following year he was elected provincial of Lombardy, Italy, and on the death of Saint Dominic, succeeded him as master general.

The Order of Preachers was only six years old when Jordan became master general. He carried out the yet untried plans of Dominic, who had hurried off to heaven when many of his dreams were just beginning to open out into realization, and still more vistas beckoned beyond. Under him the new order advanced apace, spreading throughout Germany and into Denmark. Jordan will always be remembered for his work in increasing the manpower of the order, but his contribution to its quality should never be forgotten.

He added four new provinces to the eight already in existence; he twice obtained for the order a chair at the University of Paris and helped found the University of Toulouse; and he established the first general house of studies of the order. He was a spiritual guide to many, including Blessed Diana d’Andalo; and somewhere in his busy lifetime he found time to write a number of books, including a life of Saint Dominic.

Jordan was regarded as a menace by the professors of universities where he recruited novices. He emptied classrooms of their most talented students, stole their most noted professors. Young men by the hundreds besieged the order for admittance. Some were mere children, some famous lawyers and teachers, and some were the wealthy young bearers of the most famous names in Christendom. One and all, they were drawn to a life of perfection by this man who preached so well, and who practiced what he preached with such evident relish.

All the old writers speak of the kindness and personal charm of Jordan. He had the ability to console the troubled and to inspire the despondent with new hope. At one time, a discouraged student was busily saying the Office of the Dead when Master Jordan sat down beside him and began alternating verses with him. When he came to the end of Psalm 26, Jordan said the verse with emphasis: “Oh, wait for the Lord!” Wherewith the sorrows of the young man departed. Another student was rid of troubled thoughts by the mere imposition of Jordan’s hands. To bring peace to the brothers who were being annoyed by the devil, Jordan established the beautiful custom of singing the Salve Regina after Compline each night.

Jordan was shipwrecked and drowned when returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born: 1190 at Padberg Castle, diocese of Paderborn, Westphalia, old Saxony; rumoured to have been born in Palestine while his parents were on a pilgrimage, and named after the River Jordan, but this is apparently aprochryphal

Died: Drowned 1237 in a shipwreck off the coast of Syria while on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Beatified: 1825 (cultus confirmed) by Pope Leo XII

Canonized: University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Engineering

Easy Yoke, Light Burden ~ Br. Chip Noon, Novice

Today’s Readings and Gospel follow a specific pattern that speaks to us as Christians and particularly as Dominicans.

The First Reading is God’s hortatory address to Jeremiah but is to be accepted as directed to us as keepers of the flame, or simply as messengers of God’s word…as prophets to the nations. So who are we to hold back? Why do we quaver? “…for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”

The Responsorial Psalm describes how we are to imitate Jesus. Having accepted the mission to spread the Gospel, this is a prayer to our Master to give us the strength, tools, and courage we need to go forth and relay his message. In the psalm, we pray to God that we will be worthy of the task because he is with us, protecting and guiding us. It is like a pep-talk before the big game, a sales meeting before we hit the road.

The Second Reading is a run-through of our mission, touching all the bases, but most especially the whole point of our work: to show the world that God is Love, that we revel in that Love, and that we are passing on the means to our own and the world’s salvation: Love. We, along with Jesus, put up the demons and one-by-one knock them down to replace them with the one honest-go-God’s Truth: Love. And as a bonus, we are given, and we give, the gifts of Faith and Hope, the companions and the servants of Love.

The Alleluia reminds us, in no uncertain terms, that while we are bestowing God’s message we really ought to remember to whom we are truly speaking: the poor, captives, those who most need God’s grace.

And finally, in the Gospel, Jesus tells us exactly what’s probably going to happen to us. We are going to be reviled and rejected. But, like Jesus, if we are true to our calling, and with God’s grace, we will pass through the midst of our tormentors and go on to those who will benefit from our teaching, and thank us for bringing it.

Well. There we are. An easy yoke and a light burden.

Wait a minute, though. Let me go back and think this through again. In today’s Mass we have the preacher’s lesson: God is on our side, we acknowledge our task and pray for success, we give our message as best we can, not forgetting who may need it most, and we prepare ourselves not only for people to heed God’s word, but also for people to scoff at us and drive us away.

These are the readings that we need to memorialize and memorize. I do, anyway.

These are the readings that lay out the simple mission and that show us exactly how it is to be accomplished.

Not bad.

But in fact, frightening as all get-out at times.

And that is exactly why we are expected to become completely familiar with Holy Scripture. Because therein, hidden as well as in plain sight, we have all we need to represent Jesus on earth. In fact, he’s not asking us to perform healing mysteries or loaves and fishes miracles. If we just take today’s Mass to heart, and to soul, we will have all we need to fulfill our vows.

Yes, there will be stumbling blocks. I’ve climbed over (and honestly gone around) many so far. But just as Jesus showed us, we can and we will walk through the negativity and away from the precipice over which some would like to toss us.

So yes, it can be, at times, a frightening path.

For have we not been told in Psalm 126, “ Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

Lord may it be so for us, that with your help, we will reap a rich harvest. In Jesus’s name.

Amen.

Jesus the Light of the World! The Presentation of The Lord. (Candlemas). ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading 1: MAL 3:1-4

Responsorial Psalm: PS 24:7, 8, 9, 10

Reading 2: HEB 2:14-18

Gospel:  LK 2:22-40 or LK 2:22-32

Today, the church celebrates The Presentation of The Lord. This feast is also known as Candlemas, and this always falls on February 2nd:  40 days after Christmas.

Let us first look at what we are told in the Holy Gospel today in LK 2:22-40 (NABRE):

The Presentation in the Temple. 22 When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,

23 just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” 24 and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. 27 He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, 28 he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

29 “Now, Master, you may let your servant go

in peace, according to your word,

30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,

31     which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and glory for your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted 35 (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” 36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer. 38 And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth. 39 When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

Today is a day of light. Jesus is the saving light of our often dark world of shadows. Shadow and light are the reality of our earthly lives and of our materialistic world. I feel sure we could all tell a story to some extent, of what it was like to live in the shadowy places of life, some with experience of it more than others. Sometimes we go there by our own choice or by our own actions, but at other times, it may be as a result of someone else’s actions or  through the circumstances of life.

Sometimes we choose to hide ourselves away in the darkness avoiding the light because of our feelings of shame or guilt. We do not want to admit the truth of our lives to ourselves and we do not want others to see that truth about us – our thoughts,  the things we have done, or the things we have left undone. The shadows, we tell ourselves, will cover and hide us. Other times we live in the dark night of fear not knowing what will come next or how we will handle it. There is the sense of powerlessness and life seems out of control. There are those times when the darkness and shadow of sorrow and grief sucks out the life and the light of our world and we seem unable to escape the darkness at that moment. Sometimes we may experience the darkness of ignorance and of confusion. We may be blind to our own identity, lost on the path of our life, wandering seemingly without meaning or direction.

Even when we choose to be in the shadowy places of life, they are always uncomfortable to live in. That discomfort is because of the eternal light of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus, shining in the darkness. No matter how large the shadows or how dark the night may seem to be, the light of Jesus is still present and can never be extinguished. This is symbolized today  in the candlelight procession of the feast of Candlemas which is held by some churches. That little flickering flame of the candles that are carried are the reminder that Christ – “a light for revelation” – is with you, me, and each of us! When we extinguish those candles the light did not and will not go away. It remains within us and it always has been and always will be. But we must begin to see this light with different eyes.

Sacred Tradition says that Simeon was 270 years old when he met Jesus in the temple and that he was blind. Yet Simeon himself declares to God, “My eyes have seen your salvation.” We could debate about the factual accuracy of Tradition and Scripture. Could Simeon really have been that old? Was he really blind and, if so, how did he see? Such debate and questions will surely miss the truth held before us in both the Scriptures and the Tradition. Yes, Simeon was blind. Yes, Simeon saw salvation. But he did not see with physical eyes. He saw with the eyes of his heart. Simeon experienced an inner seeing. He saw Jesus as the light of Salvation for the world that he is.

That Light of Jesus is revelatory.  It reveals to us mercy and forgiveness in the worldly dark shadows of guilt and shame,  it is the light of presence and courage in the night of fear, of compassion and hope in the darkness of sorrow and loss, a way forward in the blindness of our ignorance and confusion, and is eternal life in the darkness of death. The flame of God’s love consumes the darkness,  it fills us! It frees us to go in peace just as God promised. We have seen salvation and Simeon’s song now becomes our song.

Let us pray:

God, our Father, hear our prayer

and let the radiance of your love

scatter the gloom of our hearts and of our lives.

The light of heaven’s love has restored us to life –

free us from the desires that belong to darkness.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. AMEN