What is compassion? What is love? And how do we live them out in our own age? These are the questions that spring from the Gospel today. In many ways this is the hardest teaching Jesus offers us, because it goes against so much of what the "modern world" would have us believe. Look at the first reading: David and Saul are enemies, and Saul is suddenly in David's power. The logic of the modern world would say "Strike while you can." But David chooses another path. He is compassionate. We can all think of times when we were in a position to take revenge, score a victory over someone, take it out on them. Our measure of our faith is whether or not we were compassionate - especially with our enemies - as Jesus taught us.
Life is often about picking our way through opposites - choices and decisions that surround every moment of every day: should I do this or that, choose this way or that way, and so on. Just as there are choices on either side, so there are opposing consequences blessings and curses, in the language of the first reading, happiness and woe in the language of the Gospel. In Saint Luke's version of the Beatitudes, we see Jesus setting out very clearly the teaching that life is about choices, and that we must take control, and be responsible for the life we choose, or even the conditions of life that we embrace or accept.
We hear the call of another prophet this week - Isaiah. This introduces the Gospel, where we see Jesus calling his first disciples to follow him. Notice that the initiative is Jesus' there is no application process or interview procedure! Notice also the way that Jesus calls his disciples in this account - not with words, but with a miracle that is also a parable. It is, in a way, a miraculous "job description": if the disciple trusts completely in the one who calls, then the result will be truly amazing - a huge catch of men and women hungry for God. Simon's simple words "if you say so" give us an example of Christian discipleship: we should leave our own concerns behind, and simply follow the Lord with great trust.
The feast of Candlemas is one of two halves. It is of Light and Shade. Of looking forward and of looking back.
Backward to Christmas: because this marks the end of the Christmas season. Forty days after Christmas, the time for purification had come and the parents of Jesus came to the temple in Jerusalem to present their baby to the Lord. They came to offer the sacrifices on behalf of their first-born child required by the law of Moses, to give thanks to the Lord their God for the gift of a son.
But is that all we celebrate today? No, we are on the cusp between the two great focal points of the Church’s Year. We look forward through Lent to the solemnity and wonder of Holy Week and Easter. To grasp the connection between this holy feast of Candlemas and the momentous events of the Christian Pasch in Holy Week and Easter we need to think for a moment about the principal purpose for which the parents have brought their child to the temple. It is to redeem him, to sacrifice to the Lord ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons’.
We also look forward to Lent and Easter. We must look forward to the fulfilment of that redemption in the reconciliation of all people to God and forward to the fulfilment of our own redemption when we come at last to the joy and glory of heaven.
THE LITURGY TODAY
ALL SAINTS CHURCH
Whats going on, liturgy, live streaming details, the ramblings of the Parish Priest.