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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Friday, January 31, 2014

"Open the Gates to Your Heart"

"Open the Gates to Your Heart"
(a reflection on Luke 2:22-40 – Presentation of the Lord)
by: Deacon Paul Rooney

[Note: I am indebted to the thoughts of Pope John Paul II and Fr. Tom Shanahan.]

Those of you who have put a few years behind you will remember that this Feast used to be called "Candlemas Day," in the old church calendar. This was the day that the priest would bless all of the beeswax candles that people brought, for their use during the rest of the year.  (I can still remember the days when my Mother would light one of these blessed beeswax candles, every time there was a storm.)  In Church, after the blessing of candles, there would also be a procession of candles.  The light of candles both large and small is a symbol of Christ, the true Light who came to enlighten his people, and all peoples.  So today's feast is connected to Christmas and Epiphany.  But it also serves as a bridge to Easter by recalling the prophecy of the elderly Simeon, who on that occasion foretold the dramatic destiny of the Messiah and his Mother.

For me personally, I think our Responsorial Psalm sums up today's entire Liturgy of the Word very nicely.  It is taken from Psalm 24, and has this verse that is repeated: "Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may come in!"  In case that word "lintels" is not in your daily vocabulary, it refers to the piece of wood or other material that lies at the top of the doorway or gateway entrance. The message is this: "Get out of the way, all you obstacles that prevent this gate from being raised up."

Well, what about the gateway to our hearts?  Have we placed obstacles in the way, so that Jesus is prevented from helping us?  Is there any unforgiveness or grudges lingering in our heart?  Those obstacles must be removed.  We are called daily to repentance and conversion, throughout our entire life!

I am reminded of the words of Pope John Paul II.  He asks us to do what Simeon and Anna did: take Jesus from the arms of his most holy Mother, and bring him to everyone.  Proclaim him by your life.  This is what the deacon asks you to do when he dismisses you at the end of the Mass, when he says, "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."

Pope John Paul II also said, "Be light and comfort to everyone you meet. Like lighted candles, burn with the love of Christ. Spend yourselves for him, spreading the Gospel of his love everywhere. Through your witness the eyes of many men and women of our time will also be able to see the salvation prepared by God."

I also remember Fr. Tom Shanahan saying that this feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is a wonderful celebration for the liturgical period we call Ordinary Time.  We discover Jesus being presented in the Temple in all his ordinariness.  Just a helpless baby, and his parents are poor.  Then, after their encounter with Simeon and Anna, they leave Jerusalem and return to Nazareth.  We don't know much about the next 30 years, because Jesus lives a life that is “hidden” and ordinary.  Only after this long 30-year period does Jesus open the public dimension of his life.  But until then, his life is quite ordinary and hidden.  The hidden, ordinary life of Jesus is more than just preparation for his public life.  In the hidden life we discover how Jesus fully enters into our ordinary human life.  Most of our lives are ordinary; and so the hidden life of Jesus is instructive for us. 

Jesus teaches us above all that the extraordinary is found right in the ordinary.  His was indeed an extraordinary life from beginning to end.  It was extraordinary precisely because of his faithfulness to the ordinary occurrences and events of life.

This could be a prayer for each one of us:

"Good and gracious Lord, let me see that you are found in the ordinary, everyday events of my life.  Let me consider my everyday life, with all of its joys and sorrows, as crucially important because that is where I experience your life-giving presence.  Help me to be thankful for the lessons that you teach through your “hidden” life and your faithfulness to the ordinary."
Photo credits:
Candlemas = http://archivalmoments.ca/
Simeon and Holy Family = www.stbarsaumochurch.com


1 comment:

  1. That is a powerful prayer. I love Psalm 24 "Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may come in!" but you deepened it for me with your very practical "Get out of the way, all you obstacles that prevent this gate from being raised up." Now whenever I read it will pray for those obstacles to be removed!

    God bless!


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