Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord which is the date the Church has chosen for the World Day for Consecrated Life. It is also called Candlemas in celebration of the “Light of the World”, recognised by Simeon. It is the very last feast attached to the season of Christmas and is considered a Feast of Jesus and Mary together, since it is simultaneously called Mary’s Purification, a jewish ritual accomplished by mothers after they have given birth. Indeed, Simeon mysteriously prophecies that the Child Jesus will be a sign of contradiction : “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted… “
And then he goes on to say ” (and you yourself a sword will pierce) – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. “
This prophecy clearly unites the lives of Jesus and His Mother and it might make us question at what cost one welcomes the “Light of the World” into one’s own life ? Being the very image of the Church, Mary shows us that the consecration of Jesus is not without consequence in our life. The Church, Bride of the Lamb and Mystical Body of Christ, experiences the same Mystery as Mary. If Christ is consecrated then so are we, the baptised. If Mary is so intimately involved with Our Lord’s consecration, then so are we, the kingdom of priests.
It is beautiful to see that Mary is so united to Jesus that a sword pierces her heart. This is the sword of God’s own Word. Obviously, the image of a sword piercing someone is not a comfortable one. It is itself a “sign of contradiction” isn’t it ? It is the contradiction of experiencing immense sorrow as a necessary fruit of bringing the Light into the world. Oh, it should have been a perpetual feast of exultation and blessings upon every human being there ever was, but instead it was a double-edged sword, for the fall and rise of many ! That is what pierces the heart of Our Mother. The Good News of the Gospel comes into our world at a great price to all of us. Are we not regularly perplexed by the highs and lows of our christian lives ? Are we not sometimes in doubt as to how much of the Word of God we actually want to hear and understand ? Are we not ourselves in fear of being a contradiction to others ? Reluctant to share Jesus with others for fear of public shame or condemnation ?
In the day for Consecrated Life, remember that there is not a single one of us that is not already consecrated to the Father through baptism. It is now only a question of how much do we want to welcome the Light of the World into our lives.
Fr Sean Mary