When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

This is the Sixth and final Sunday after Christmas. 

We have reflected over these weeks on the way Jesus had made Himself known to the world: To the Jewish people; To the poor and humble; To the world; and In His call to the disciples. In these weeks we have covered thirty years of Jesus’ time on earth. Today, we take a step back. 

After Jesus’ birth, He and His mother would stay confined for forty days. She was considered ritually impure because of the blood associated with birth. This time of separation concluded with a reappearance, a revelation, at the time of ritual purification.

The Holy Family goes up to the Temple, only a few miles away from Bethlehem, to perform this ceremony. We can imagine that their thoughts were on what they had to do. We know how it is when our focus is on the things we have to accomplish. Like the Holy Family, in the midst of our focus, we are taken by surprise.

The words of surprise are summed up in this statement: The child’s father and mother were amazed. A very old and holy man sings praise to God for what he has been allowed to see – the glory of Israel, the light to the Gentiles. An elderly woman goes about speaking prophecy and praising God, talking to everyone who awaited redemption.

For us Christians, each day must be a new revelation, a new offering. Each is a chance to show who we are as a people, as a family, and as Church. Each day is a new chance to take the light of Christ that is in us, as symbolized by the candles we hold, and speak to those awaiting redemption.  Each of our homes, that hold this light, needs to be a place of refuge and safety that is in some respects apart from the world. In these places we find our refuge and offer it to those we may meet.

On this day, let us consider how we might be taken by surprise by the way Jesus might appear at any moment. It may be in any encounter we might have. Let us allow ourselves to be pulled away from our focus to a new focus, the opportunity to bring Jesus’ light to those who sit in darkness. This season of revelation was our beginning. We walk out of it holding a light and making an offering to the world.

Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

I see tons of advertising every day. Of course it comes through television and radio – old school advertising. Being so involved in life online between emails, social media, work and websites I feel inundated! Looking at something on Amazon is typically followed by months of emails and online targeted ads pushing that product I happened to stumble on. February 2nd brings the celebration of all advertising, the Super Bowl. I think more people watch for the ads than for the game. One of my clergy friends used to say that if he won the lottery we would all see an ad for our Church in the midst of the Super Bowl. I hope he wins really big because it now takes $5.6 million for a thirty second ad spot. Yesterday, I received another one of those Valentine’s Day ads coming through almost every minute. Its point: ‘It is not too late. Jim, you’ve still got time to pull off a great romantic dinner at one of the local spots that couples love.’ Well, I’m glad for that chance. We luckily already have a plan for that day. We worry about being too late all the time. Even St. Paul recalled sadly that he was one born untimely, too late, out of time as the least of the Apostles, and as one who had done wrong before that moment of conversion. He saw himself as diminutive and weakly. If St. Paul left it there, constantly worrying about being too late, we would only see a sad and pathetic figure. Instead, he finds confidence and reassures us in saying “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.” In this ‘month of love’ and month that begins this year’s Great and Holy Lent, St. John reminds us that the message and trick in advertising – you’re going to miss out – is untrue. St. James and St. Paul both tell us that we cannot be too late. Our victory is assured because we believe in Jesus, the Son of God, and because His grace is alive in us to great effect.

February starts with a celebration of Jesus, Light of the World. We then enter the Pre-Lenten season of Septuagesima. The close of February takes us into the Great and Holy Lent. Light. Preparation, and reflection give us the opportunity to enter deeply into life with Jesus as His disciples.

Learn about February’s discipleship initiative. Celebrate Scout Sunday. Get together for adult religious education. Partake in our Valentine’s Raffle. Celebrate Black History Month with a special event focusing on historic Black Gospel Music on February 29th. All this and so much more!

Read about all this in our February 2020 Newsletter.

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Presentation


Let’s use
those candles

“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.”

Candles are blessed in the Holy Church on February 2nd, the Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord. These blessed candles remind us of Simeon’s prayer in which he glories in the Lord’s promise. Jesus came to be the light of the world and Simeon recognized this immediately.

Today we bless these candles, those to be used in church over the coming year, and those for each of us to take home.

We keep these blessed candles (Gromnica) in our homes and light them during storms or other danger. We light them when the clergy come to bring Holy Communion to the sick or when the sick are anointed. We light them when someone is dying to light their way to eternity and to recall the fact that they are on their way to the Jesus who will be their eternal light.

A painting by Piotr Stachiewicz shows snow-covered homes in dim light. The people inside their homes are afraid of the hungry wolves on rampage outside their poor village. Mary, the Mother of God, watches over the people on those cold nights with her candle. She wards off the ravenous pack of wolves and protects the people from all harm.

There is much we might fear. It is not only the cold, and it is rarely a pack of wolves, but the wolves of the world, the greed, the anger, the prejudice, the culture of death, and other immorality surrounds our homes. It attacks our children.

The funny thing is that we likely have a lifetime supply of these candles we get in church in our homes. We pick them up; solemnly take them home, and put them in a drawer – just in case.

Since the wolves of the world surround us, since these represent true danger to our eternal souls, let us resolve to use these blessed candles this year. Let us use the blessed candle we receive today, and use up those blessed candles that reside in the drawers in our homes. Put them in a candleholder. Let us gather those we live with and light our blessed candle each day. Let us reflect on the protection the Lord offers, the prayers our Blessed Mother offers for us, and pray in the words of Simeon: mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation. Let us pray that Jesus, the light of the world, would continue to dwell with us, watch over us, and protect us.