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The Presentation of the Lord

Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Today we celebrate the Presentation of Christ in the temple. It is a feast that directs our gaze towards the Virgin Mary who placed her son at the beginning of his life under God’s disposal. It is a double-edged feast. On the one hand, Simeon sings his beautiful song about this child. On the other hand, he has a painful prophecy for Mary: “A sword will pierce your own soul, too” (Lk 2,35).

Here, as always, the figure of Mary is the pattern for us believers. The prophecy is said to us, too: “A sword will pierce your soul.” Our faith is many things: trust, joy, peace. But it is also this: the inescapable sword in our lives. The sword that splits our lives hurts everyone.

Faith does not make us untouchable. It does not give us a life that only knows of happiness or that is perfectly calm. Faith does not give us the dominance to perfectly plan our lives. It does not give us a theology that has the answers to all our questions. The sword that pierced Mary’s soul pierces ours: in questions that do not find answers, in loves that we lost, in the injustices we see and do, in the disappointments we experience. 

What made it possible for the Virgin Mary to carry on with her pierced heart? I believe it was her hope. The apostle Paul wrote: “In hope we are saved” (Rom 8,24). Where do you find this hope? In a conference that our brother Timothy Radcliffe recently gave, he said: “If you want to know about hope, you go to the hardest places.” And he told moving stories about how people in war-torn or poverty-stricken countries taught him what hope is. 

Hope and faith need each other. The Czech priest Tomáš Halík, who won the Templeton prize last year, wrote: “If faith would forget that its object remains in a cloud of mystery in which only hope may enter, it might easily become an ideology, a seller of certainties; and if hope would detach itself from faith, it might easily be carried away by a wind of dreams and illusions.” 

Celebrating the feast of the Presentation of our Lord is living with a pierced heart, the heart of a pilgrim who longs for the destination he has not seen yet, a heart that is moved by the sorrows of others, a heart that is open for the promise of God. 

Fr. Timothy's conference on hope.

Br Stefan Mangnus O.P.



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