Homily for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Year A
Theme: “When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” (Luke 2:22)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Homily for Sunday February 2 2020
As we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, we are invited to consider the gifts we have received and the gifts we have given. Today’s gospel passage recounts Mary and Joseph, observant Jews fulfilling the prescriptions of the law, bringing their first-born to the temple to dedicate him to the Lord. So, too, this might be the day we take stock of our gifts and make some return to the Lord for his goodness to us.
With the celebration of Christmas still lingering in stray pine needles stuck in the carpet and curdled eggnog in the back of the refrigerator, these cold, dark days beg for reminders of the light of Bethlehem’s star as we dream of the warming spring to come. I’ve found a simple way to celebrate this feast as I consider the many gifts I’ve received. The basket of Christmas cards on the corner of my desk: each is an expression of a relationship for which I’m most grateful. Picking a card from the stack each day, I bring that person to prayer, thanking God for the friendship and asking that the card-sender would experience God’s blessing that day.
I pulled the card from Carol out of the desktop pile a few days ago. It wasn’t a card, really, but a holiday captioned photo of her two young children. While the card clearly denotes her identity as “Mom,” I’d never seen her in that role; rather, our paths seemed always to cross at the bedside of the sickest patients. A medical resident when we first met, Carol is now a seasoned physician. In the early days of her training, she distinguished herself as the doctor who made the most referrals to us in the Pastoral Care Department. Carol possessed an unusual sensitivity to the spiritual needs of the patients in her care, and she kept the hospital chaplains hopping with her requests for prayer and supportive visits. Even more, though so many other important concerns called for her attention, Carol regularly brought gifts of candy or cookies to the Pastoral Care Office, her care for us as attentive as what she gave her patients. Though we’ve taken separate roads, I’m grateful for the moments of faith we shared at the bedside of so many patients, commending them to God’s care while also asking divine assistance for the young physician at my side. Dr. Carol is far more experienced now and, from what the picture of her children tells me, these days she more often answers to “Mom” than “Doctor.” God bless you, Carol, as wife, mother and physician.
On another morning I reached into the card basket and pulled Frank’s Christmas letter out.
I’ve known Frank for almost forty years, since our days together at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland when he was a student and I a teacher. Then, after he graduated, we both found ourselves at Notre Dame University, he an undergraduate while I pursued graduate theology studies. Frank settled in Virginia after Notre Dame, capturing a prestigious accounting position and all the possibilities for lifestyle that go with it, yet he seems to have spurned what might otherwise be his. Who knows where it came from, but Frank possesses a keen eye for the needs of the less fortunate. Over the years, the Christmas letters have recounted numerous Habitat for Humanity projects he’s worked on, many of those letters enclosing a picture of himself before an unfinished house with his co-worker, Former President Jimmy Carter, each waving a hammer or saw in greeting. With Jimmy winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Frank was inspired to greater acts of service. The Christmas letter I now held told of an extended trip to South Africa, detailing the suffering he witnessed and, through the projects he worked on, his efforts to alleviate some of the human misery. God bless you, Frank, that you may always see the face of Jesus in those who possess so little.
Quite a few cards yet remain in the basket, each a reminder of a graced life that has intersected with mine. Christmas may be over, but the most precious gift remains: God’s love for us, especially as expressed in relationships that have enriched our lives.