The Presentation of the Lord
The feast of the Presentation of the Lord is kept on Tuesday 2nd February and it marks the very end of the Christmas Season. This feast is celebrated forty days after Christmas and it is the day when we remove the Christmas Crib from the Church.
We remember how the baby Jesus was presented by his parents in the Temple and where they made the necessary sacrifice for him. We recall how the Prophet Simeon took Jesus in his hands and sang out the song of praise we know as the Nunc Dimittis: “Now let your servant depart in peace because my eyes have seen your salvation.”
This feast is also known as Candlemas because on this day we bless the candles used in the Church during the coming year.
In modern times it is also kept as a special; Day of Prayer for those who have embraced the Consecrated Life. We keep this commemoration on the Feast of the Presentation because of the strong parallels between Christ’s consecration to God in the Temple and the special consecration made by those who have entered Religious Orders.
Father Alex McAllister
The Call of the First Apostles
This Sunday we read about the call of the Apostles. What is striking about this account is how those first Apostles immediately dropped everything to follow Jesus.
In the world of today we all have so many commitments, so many things that keep us in one place, that it is hard to conceive of just letting go of everything in order to follow the Lord. It is easy for us to believe that at the time of Christ there were fewer commitments and obligations and so believe that it was easier for the Apostles to let go of their day-to-day commitments.
But if you think about it, we soon realise that this cannot have been the case. In a society much poorer than ours it was even more important to secure a regular income. With bigger families and the responsibility of looking after the elderly there were also more commitments and obligations to the extended family.
So, let us not think that it was easy for those Apostles to make such a radical commitment to Christ. Let us instead take them as our inspiration and endeavour to follow the path that they walked; maybe not by leaving our families but by committing ourselves wholeheartedly to spreading the teaching of Christ.
The story of the boy Samuel hearing God calling him that we are presented with as our First Reading today is one of the more wonderful stories we find in the Bible.
It did not take the old High Priest Eli very long to realise that the boy was being called directly by God. In adulthood following the disastrous defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines, Samuel rallied his humiliated people and won for himself recognition as a great judge and prophet.
Samuel is seen as the first of the major prophets and was to annoint as King both Saul and David.
As a prophet he travelled each year through the whole country rebuking the people and calling them to repentance. He is regarded as one of the wisest of the leaders of Israel. He is also viewed as one of those who foreshadowed Christ, giving the people an insight into what the coming Messiah would be like.
Father Alex McAllister
Hymn from the Divine Office
for the Feast of the Epiphany
Fairer than the sun at morning
was the star that told his birth;
to the lands their God announcing,
hid beneath a form of earth.
By its lambent beauty guided,
see, the eastern kings appear;
see them bend, their gifts to offer,
gifts of incense, gold and myrrh.
Solemn things of mystic meaning:
incense doth the God disclose;
gold a royal Child proclaimeth;
myrrh a future tomb foreshows.
Holy Jesu, in thy brightness
to the Gentile world displayed,
with the Father and the Spirit
endless praise to thee be paid.