Thursday, February 2, 2012

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

In 1997 Blessed John Paul II designated this feast day on which we remember how Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple and consecrated him to the Father as the World Day of Consecrated Life. Many religious priests, sisters, and brothers work in mission areas as health workers. As we pray this month for health workers, let us remember them in a special way as we reflect on part of Pope John Paul’s message instituting this day.

The World Day for Consecrated Life will be celebrated on the feast which commemorates the presentation which Mary and Joseph made of Jesus in the temple "to present him to the Lord" (Lk 2:22). This Gospel scene reveals the mystery of Jesus, the One consecrated by the Father, come into the world to carry out his will faithfully (cf. Heb 10:5-7). Simeon points to Jesus as "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Lk 2:32) and by a prophetic word foretells the supreme offering of Jesus to the Father and his final victory (Lk 2:32-35).

In this way the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is an eloquent icon of the total offering of one's life for all those who are called to show forth in the Church and in the world, by means of the evangelical counsels "the characteristic features of Jesus -- the chaste, poor and obedient one" (Vita Consecrata #1). …

Dear brothers and sisters, as I entrust to the maternal protection of Mary the institution of this World Day, I deeply hope that it bear abundant fruits for the holiness and the mission of the Church. May it help, in a special way, to heighten in the Christian community an esteem for vocations of special consecration, to stimulate ever more intense prayer for obtaining them from the Lord, in this way helping to mature in young people and families a generous willingness to receive them as gift. The life of the Church as a whole will draw benefit from this and so will the new evangelization. I trust that this World Day of prayer and reflection will help the particular Churches to treasure ever more the gift of consecrated life and to be measured by its message, to find the proper and fruitful balance between action and contemplation, between prayer and charity, and between commitment in the present time and eschatological hope.

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