January 31, 2020

 

Announcements

• Looking Ahead:  The Sacrament of Confirmation will be bestowed on those students who would like to receive it on Monday, April 27, at 5:30 PM, in the abbey church.  
• Graduation will be on Memorial Day, May 25, at 2:00 PM, in the abbey courtyard.  All are welcome to attend.

Athletics

• The next soccer games are:  February 4 (Tuesday), at 2:00 PM, at Lake Forest Sports Park; and February 6 (Thursday), at 3:00 PM, at Apollo Park [12544 Rives Ave, Downey, CA 90242]
• The next basketball games are:  February 5 (Wednesday), at 7:00 PM, at Faith Lutheran High School [3960 Fruit St, La Verne, CA 91750]; and February 6, (Thursday), at 2:00 PM, at Ladera Sports Center.

Sermon by a Norbertine Priest

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, the event which we just heard recounted in today’s Gospel.  This day traditionally marks the end of the Christmas Season.  We know that Christmas is on December 25; it’s then followed by an Octave—8 days of celebration; it then continues to a lesser degree until the Feast of the Epiphany; and it then 
comes to its ultimate completion today.  Remember that, according to the Old Testament Law, after giving birth to a child, a woman was not allowed to enter the Temple in Jerusalem for 40 days; at the end of the 40 days she would enter the Temple and make an offering of a lamb or, if she was too poor, a pair of turtledoves or pigeons.  In addition, all parents had to offer up their 
firstborn son to God in the Temple; that son was then “redeemed” or given back to the couple after they paid a monetary fee.  It is both these legal observances—the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus—that we commemorate with today’s Liturgical Feast.

Now this might all seem a bit cold and legalistic.  “You mean to tell me that this day, in the whole life of our Lord, is really that important?” Yes, it definitely is.  Just consider that, among the 33 years of our Lord’s life, the first 30 of them are for the most part unknown; and it is only this day, along with our Lord’s birth and the finding of Him in the temple when He was 12 years old, that God has willed to reveal to us.  In fact, today’s feast day is one of the oldest celebrated 
in the Church’s liturgy.  Some say it was actually instituted by the Apostles themselves.  Why, then, is it so important, and what is it that God wants us to learn from this?

First of all, remember that everything in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem foreshadowed and pointed to Christ:  all the many different sacrifices performed there, all the many offerings and liturgical ceremonies—everything was a sort of prophecy of and preparation for Christ the Messiah.  So it is on this day when the symbols of the long-expected Savior find their fulfillment in Him Whom they symbolized.  As such, it is the beginning of the end for the Old Law, which 
was to prepare the world for Christ’s coming.  The New Law, the coming of the Savior of the World, is, you might say, officially inaugurated on this day.

The second thing we can learn from this is the incarnational aspect of our faith.  It might seem 
sort of strange that Christ (Who is God) and His Blessed Mother (who is without sin) should submit to these ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, when, strictly speaking they did not apply to them.  Our Lord did not need to be “redeemed”; He is the Redeemer.  Our Lady did not need to be purified, since she was a virgin before and after the birth of our Lord.  But our Lord wanted 
to show us through this apparently mundane observance of ceremonial laws that, though He is God, He chose to become Man and humbly submit to all the material obligations placed upon our humanity.  As is written in St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews:  Since the children share in blood and flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them…He helped the descendants of Abraham, therefore He had to become like His brothers and sisters in every way.  And again:  We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.  And finally, in St. Paul’s Letter to the 
Philippians [2:8] we read that Christ humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.  

So, at this moment of the Presentation in the Temple we see Christ submitting to the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, just as He would humbly submit to every other aspect of human life:  poverty, hunger, thirst, hard work, loneliness, sadness, rejection, even temptation, 
though He never sinned.  The fact of the Incarnation is vital to, and at the very center of our Christian Faith—that God became man to conquer death by His death, and so save mankind.  

The importance of this fact of the Incarnation of God is being taught already, right here, in this Presentation in the Temple.  Christ submitted to these laws, just as He would later submit to the Cross, so that He might cast off the old yoke of slavery to sin and bring us eternal peace.

This brings us to the last lesson to be learned from today’s feast day.  We said that Christ is the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Old Testament; He is also the Savior of the world, God-made-Man, true God and true Man; but how many did not recognize Him when He came? How many rejected Him and even nailed Him to a Cross? Well, today, during this Presentation in the Temple, we meet Simeon and Anna, two devout Israelites, who did recognize Him.  They both had been waiting earnestly for the Messiah to come; and they waited for Him in prayer and fasting, and upright living; and so when He finally came, they recognized Him, received Him with open arms, and were blessed by Him.

Christ did not pass Simeon and Anna by, as He did to so many who did not know Him; rather, we are told that Simeon took the Child into His arms.  They did not fail to see Him, because they knew how and where to look for Him.

How often do we feel like God is far away from us, but we don’t pray to Him daily? How often do we feel like we don’t know God, but we don’t read Sacred Scripture and other good Catholic books? How often do we feel like God does not love us, doesn’t care about us, but we 
don’t regularly go to Confession to receive His love and mercy and receive His own Body and Blood at Mass.  How often do we feel like He is miles away from us, but we don’t look for Him in the world of nature around us, or in the many blessings He has already given us?  In other 
words, how well do we go looking for Him? Simeon and Anna knew where to find the Savior of the World, and they knew how to prepare for His coming, and so they found Him when He finally came.

As we continue to celebrate this Holy Mass and this Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, let us thank God for becoming man in order to save us, and let us pray for the grace to seek Him and await Him after the holy examples of Simeon and Anna, that like them, we too someday might be united to Him for all eternity.  Amen.

Prayer Requests

• For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
• For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.