Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and of the Consecrated Life | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and of the Consecrated Life

Dear Sisters and Brothers,
May the Lord give you peace!

1. Today we celebrate the presentation of the infant Jesus Christ to the Father, as we heard in the Gospel. It is something very touching and moving for us because we are living very close to the place in which this event happened. But This feast is special for us also because we celebrate today the feast of our consecrated life. So, we have to hear and understand the inspiration coming to our life from this event of the life of Jesus in the context of this Liturgy.
I would like to emphasize just two points from the words of this Liturgy.

2. The first word that I want to underline is offering. The presentation of the infant Jesus is described as an offering, a consecration and a sacrifice. We will understand – as the Most Holy Mother – the full meaning of this act only on Calvary, on the Cross. But it is important to recognize that the entire life of Jesus is an offering: He is offered as a gift of the Father and He offers himself to the Father from the beginning of his human life, in the same way He receives Himself from the Father and gives Himself to the Father from eternity and for eternity. At the same time the consecration of Jesus is a complete dedication to the will of the Father, His obedience is not a part-time obedience but a full-time obedience. His obedience in the human flesh is a reflection of His eternal obedience.
The sacrifice of Jesus is not only the sacrifice of the Cross, but of His whole life dedicated to the Father and to Humanity; His sacrifice is His whole life dedicated to reconcile us to the Father and to reconcile us with each other.

3. If we know that our consecrated life is a sharing in the consecration of Jesus, I think that we should feel that our life is a gift. We received this gift, we should offer this gift, through a daily giving of ourselves. This is the reason for our vows: they are a gift for us, we call them evangelical counsels, and we know that what Jesus counsels us in the Gospel is what makes our life full, beautiful, meaningful, and authentic. At the same time, we know and experience that they are a commitment, a necessary commitment if we want that the gift to us to became a gift of us, a return and “restitution” – as saint Francis of Assisi says – of our life to the source of life through the gift of ourselves to our brothers and sisters. 
Our obedience enlarges our will not minimizing it, because through our obedience our will becomes as large and big as the will of God. Our poverty is not a deprivation but a sharing, a source of freedom, and a prophecy to a world in which selfishness too often prevails. Our chastity is not the absence of love but an expansion of our heart to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength; and when this is our love we can love all our brothers and sisters and all creation.

4. The second word that I submit to your reflection is light. We received a small candle at the beginning of this celebration. And we heard in Simeon’s prayer: “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”. In the Gospel of Saint John Jesus is presented as the light, “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (Jn 1,9), and we proclaim Him “God from God and Light from Light”. We know that Jesus enlightens in many way: his words are a light that shines in the darkness of our history, of our life and of our heart; his actions are a light that reveals the true face of God as tenderness and mercy; his death is a light that shows us the greatest love and his resurrection is a light that opens in our heart the source of hope inspiring on us his Holy Spirit, “the giver of life”.
Our candle is a small one if we compare it to the Light itself. But with our consecration we are called to show the same light of Jesus. Our candle is a small one, so we should be humble, we have not to presume, we have not to substitute ourselves for Jesus. But we received a candle. We received a call to be “light of the world” (Mt 5,14). And we have to enlighten our brothers and sisters because we have received this gift from the same Jesus. And we can really be light, as Jesus, showing with our words and deeds our faith, our hope and our charity. When we are praying together we are showing the source of our faith and of our fraternity; when we are taking care for the children, the sick and the poor, the migrants and the refugees, it is the love of Christ that is shining through our lives; when we are teaching or preaching we should reveal the light of Gospel, the light of the word of Jesus. 

5. Allow me, please, to conclude this homily quoting Pope Saint John Paul the Second and echoing the invitation with which he concluded his message to the consecrated at the end of the Jubilee of the Incarnation:
“Like Simeon and Anna, take Jesus from the arms of his most holy Mother and, filled with joy for the gift of your vocation, bring him to everyone. Christ is salvation and hope for every person! Proclaim him by your life dedicated entirely to the kingdom of God and the world's salvation. Proclaim him with that uncompromising fidelity which, even recently, has led some of your brothers and sisters in various parts of the world to martyrdom.
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 «in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel»” (GP II, MGMVC 2001).

May it be so.

Fr. Francesco Patton ofm 
Custos of the Holy Land