Doesn’t look like it, but it is still Epiphany season. There are some final echoes of Christmas lights in the later part of the week. Thursday is the Presentation of the Lord. This feast, which once ended the forty days of Christmas, dusts off the theme of light once more that marked the Christmas season. Candle-mass or (“la Candelaria”) in Spanish blesses candle light again. Did you notice the radiant pictures of our midnight Mass posted on Facebook? Light bathes our community. It made a terrible mess on the pews and carpet for our staff to clean up. But everyone said it was worth it to feel the light and taste the Savior’s birth new in the reality of our country, state and world, especially since the November elections. Only light can fill in the empty spaces between us with the truth that we humans (at the end of the day) are …family.
All three readings and the psalm seem to land on the theme of humility. Fr. Brian Doyle calls it “the final frontier” from old Star Trek language. God light radiates from the humble and meek. But living humility is not for the weak kneed. Humus (in Greek) is close to humorous. The humble are generally a hoot” … very funny. To live near the earth makes them that way. The first reading invites us to join that company. “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth . . . seek justice, seek humility.” The psalm response comes from the Gospel: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
The convert Saul of Tarsus, now newly named Paul reminds the Corinthians that most of them do not come from the powerful or upper classes. Neither do we. God chooses the weak and the lowly to radiate light. Our belonging to Christ is God’s doing rather than our own accomplishment. Somebody got to do it in the middle of the world. Call us close to the earth. We have only a short time, says many of the planet’s finest scientists, to rebalance our earth. St. Matthew’s mysterious Beatitudes hold up those who are poor in spirit, the meek and the powerless for praise and blessing. This is not a new set of commandments. It is a round of applause for those in front of Jesus already doing it. They are radiant with vision and hope.
I get to see so many of the Kingdom’s “high society” here among us at St. Mary’s. In some of the Eastern Christian Churches, the bishop is addressed as “Your Beatitude” as they kiss his hand. Isn’t that a wonderful title? It is a healthy reminder of the incredibly high standard of living attached to all of us who bear the title Christian. We may not think of themselves as real movers and shakers. But they have great power for leading the world and the church deeper into our sacred humanity. After all, God chose to be born here. Whatever good we pull off is not cause for bragging or boasting. It is just God’s grace shining through good people.
If you are downtown for the noon Mass on Thursday, join our procession with candles on the Church’s Presentation of the Lord. The next day is St. Blaise Day when we bless throats with those newly blest candles. There may be need for lots of Gospel conversation in the coming years. Holy throats will definitely be needed.
A gentle week,
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM