- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

February 2, 2019

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO [1]

3rd Saturday in Ordinary Time
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Malachi 3:1-4; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

The prophet Malachi spoke of the one who would prepare the way for the promised Messiah. The forerunner would call sinners to repentance and prepare them to encounter the promised Savior. Those who ponder God’s word will become the dwelling of the Spirit. Consecrated religious can raise their voices along with Simeon, “I have seen the light of revelation.” Simeon not only saw, but also held in his arms the long-awaited hope who was actually holding him. Like Simeon, we who receive the Bread of Life and ponder the living Word can rejoice because God has come to dwell in our midst and take us into his loving embrace.

“Christianity is a person who loved me immensely, who demands and asks for my love. Christianity is Christ” (cf. Saint Oscar Romero, Homily, 6 November 1977). Religious consecration celebrates this loving encounter of God with His people; it brings joy and renews hope. As people of hope, we have consecrated ourselves to God, who is faithful to his word. Because God is faithful, we must not succumb to the temptation of survival that will render our consecrated life barren and lifeless. The temptation of survival renders us reactionaries, fearful, slowly and silently shutting ourselves up within our cloister walls and clinging to our preconceived notions. It is important that, in our frailty and vulnerability, we not be afraid to draw near and touch the wounds of others, which are our wounds too, and to do this in the same way that Jesus himself does.

The Light of Christ has come into the world. A Small flame of that light has been entrusted to us, symbolized by the candles we carry. The temptation of survival makes us want to protect spaces, buildings and structures, rather than to share our light with others. The temptation of survival makes us forget grace; it turns us into custodians of the sacred past, but not fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters of the hope to which we have been called. A consecrated religious is not merely someone who has arrived at a certain place, but rather someone who sets out decisively, unafraid to take risks and keeps on walking. “In order to be an image of God, the spirit must turn to what is eternal, hold it in spirit, keep it in memory, and by loving it, embrace it in the will.” (Edith Stein)

When we were baptized, we were given a lighted candle, to remind us that we had been enlightened by Christ. Our monastic profession reaffirmed our commitment to walk as children of the light in the company of this monastic community. The lighted candles we carry today remind us that the Spirit kindles the fire of love in our hearts. The light allows us to see Him who upon whose face shines the Glory of the Father. Even though the tapers we carry are small, and the flame flickers in our shaky hands, we need not be afraid, to go forward with the same energy and eagerness that makes us happier and more available, better witnesses to the Gospel. The light, once shared, is not diminished but divided and increased; from light to light. This can only happen if we encourage each other to keep walking and proclaiming the Lord through service to our brothers and sisters, We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting place for those who love us. (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).