Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
The Presentation Of The Lord
- February 2, 2011
The episode of the Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple ā the feast was formerly called the Purification of Our Lady ā rounds off Lukeās description of the stories of Jesusās birth.
According to Jewish Law, every firstborn belonged to the Lord and had to be āredeemedā through the offering of āa pair of dovesā. A woman was considered unclean for forty days after childbirth and her purification coincided with the offering made of her son in the Temple. Neither was Mary āimpureā, nor had Jesus to be āredeemedā by an offering. But this ceremony, like that of his circumcision earlier, is one more example of Jesusās Jewish identity, his sharing in our common humanity, with all its rites, rituals and imperfections.
Lukeās depiction of the birth of Jesus is related to the theme of longing and fulfillment. Zachary and Elizabeth longed for a child; Israel was waiting expectantly for its messiah. In the Temple two aged and devout Jews, Simeon and Hannah, were praying for years for a sign from God to see the messiah before they passed away. This sign is given them when they are drawn to a very ordinary looking couple from Galilee with a baby in their arms.
Simeon holds the bab, and praises and thanks God for this child, āthe deliverance sent to Israel, a light to the gentiles and the glory of your people.ā Yet another theme, also a favourite with Luke, is stressed here: Godās salvation is meant for all, it is universal.
As the parents of little Jesus wonder once again at what is being said about their infant son, Simeon blesses them and speaks to Mary, the mother: āyour son will be a sign of contradiction,ā he says, āand he will break your heart.ā Painful words, but so true!
All change comes about through resistance and negotiation, opposition and acceptance. Itās hard for those who love us to watch from the sidelines, as we surmount the odds. This was the destiny of Jesus and of his mother. Mary followed from afar the mission of her son, a journey which led him through the towns and villages of Galilee and Judaea, to his final death in Jerusalem. We know her heart ached whenever she heard of the reactions to what he said and did, for it was said that āmany in Israel will stand or fall because of him.ā