My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
A great joy and congratulations to you all that celebrate your anniversary. Your Jubilee. And I have to say, also, that it is great to be back home. As you probably know, Bishop Marc Trudeau and our other bishops from region 11 — we were just in Rome this past week. We were on our ad limina visits with Pope Francis and celebrated Mass at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul.
It was a very special week, we just came back yesterday so right now is about midnight for us — so if I fall asleep while I’m preaching, that’s the reason for that one.
It was, as I said, beautiful. We were able to be together, and pray together, and reflect on our vocation as bishops. And what was very special that I would like to share with you — this past Monday we had an audience with the Holy Father. He said that it was the record — three hours.
So it was very special for all of us and he was very pleased to hear about the progress we are making in sharing the Gospel and spreading God’s love here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
We told the Holy Father that we were especially praying for him every day and he asked us to bring his apostolic blessing to you all, the people of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. So, it was a very special week and I think that today, as we gather for this Eucharistic celebration, let’s keep Pope Francis in our prayers and let’s pray for his intentions for the universal Church.
So today also, as I said before and we know, it is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, and as we are celebrating the lives of our religious jubilarians, we especially thank you — sisters and brothers that are celebrating your anniversary.
Each one of you is such a beautiful witness to the love of God!
We thank you on behalf of all the people you serve in humility and love. We thank you for your ministries of education and catechesis, and especially for bringing Christ’s love to the poor and sick.
We know that in the Church there are many paths for disciples, many ways to follow Jesus. Consecrated life is a special way of love and dedication to God and service to God’s people.
So, that’s what I said at the beginning of this homily, it’s so beautiful that we gather for this special celebration. We are grateful to all of you for your love and dedication to God.
But also, for all of us it’s a good moment for us to reflect that we are called to “present ourselves” to God — all of us — to dedicate ourselves completely to Jesus Christ, following him in love and seeking his will for our lives and for our world.
And that’s the feast day that we celebrate today. This great feast is about loving God and his people fully.
And the scene of the Gospel that we just heard is very familiar to all of us because, as we know, as it is the fourth joyful mystery of the Rosary.
It was the custom under the law of Moses, for parents to consecrate their firstborn boy to God, 40 days after the child was born. So, obviously, we know that today is 40 days since Christmas and the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
And as we heard, that there was that holy man in the temple, St, Simeon, that recognizes Jesus coming and he recognizes that Jesus is not just an ordinary child. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he is able to understand that Jesus is the One whom all the world has been waiting for, the living God and the true face of our humanity.
It is a beautiful scene. Very powerful. As Simeon takes the baby Jesus into his arms and blessed God. And he says:
My eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.
The Feast of the Presentation, we can say, is another “epiphany,” another revelation of who Jesus Christ really is. And in the light of his presence, once again he manifests the beautiful possibilities of our lives as children of God.
Our God is not someone distant who doesn’t want to be involved in the lives of his creatures.
Our God is the God of encounter, a God who comes from the heavens to be near to us, who comes down to join his life to our life in love. This is the beautiful reality of the Incarnation. As we know, God with us.
Our second reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews, tells us that Jesus came to share in our blood and flesh, that he “had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way,” except for sin.2
What a beautiful gift our God gives to us! Jesus Christ comes to share in our human reality, as a brother, as a friend. And because our human reality includes pain and suffering and death, Jesus, as we know, shares in those things as well.
Jesus, who is perfect God and perfect man, he loves us so much that he suffered death to set us free from our selfishness and sins.
And then he fulfills the prophecy of Malachi in today’s first reading. Jesus comes to the temple today as the Lord that every heart desires. The prophet tells us:
He will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord.
Jesus comes into your life and mine, he comes to purify and “distill” our humanity, to return our human nature to its “essence.” To make it possible for us to offer ourselves in sacrifice to the Lord. He makes possible that we all strive for holiness – to make holiness possible.
So my dear brothers and sisters, our lives are made for “presentation” to the Lord. Jesus is waiting for us to love him as he loves. He’s calling us, as we know, personally. He’s waiting for us to offer our life to him as a “present.”
To make our lives a gift for him, just as he gives his life for us.
But this is, as we also know, a beautiful way to live.
But it’s important for all of us continue finding the time in our busy lives to spend more time with Jesus. Reading the Gospels, contemplating our lives, making ourselves ready every day to receive Jesus in Holy Communion.
And as much as possible, as you all try to do, to be in the presence of God all day long. This is the real meaning of life — this is what makes our life as beautiful as it’s supposed to be.
God wants to be with us and each one of us wants to be with God.
So on this beautiful Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, let’s ask for the grace to especially follow the example of our religious jubilarians and to consecrate our lives totally for Jesus, who lived totally for us.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary intercede for us and help us to love Jesus and to carry the light of his Gospel into our world, into our everyday work and relationships. That all may know the salvation God has promised to his people.
1. Readings (Feast of the Presentation of the Lord): Mal. 3:1-4; Ps. 24:7-10; Heb. 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-32.
2. Heb. 4:15.