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St. Francis of Assisi Parish is a Christ-centered community. We strive to be a warm, friendly and caring parish family, where the gifts and talents of all, young and old, are recognized and graciously used to nurture others, and to worship together in a vibrant and spirit-filled liturgy. We will go forth healed, affirmed and refreshed to meet the challenge of life in our spiritual growth.
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From Our Pastor Fr. Edison Bernavas, I.C.
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Jerusalem Temple. The presentation of Jesus in the temple serves two purposes; the first is the redemption of the first-born and the second is the purification of Mary. The first-born belonged to the Lord, according to the Book of Exodus 13:1-2, but Numbers 18:15-16 tells us that the first -born could be redeemed or bought back by paying five shekels. The purification of the mother in Jewish Law (Lev:12) was purification from ritual uncleanness after childbirth.
The purification was normally performed in the local synagogue, but Mary and Joseph decided it should take place in the temple. If the family could afford it they would offer a year old lamb, but if not, they would offer two young pigeons.
It is important to note that these two acts — the purification of the mother and the redemption of the son, did not require a visit to the Temple. However, Mary and Joseph wished to fulfill all the prescriptions in Jerusalem, and St. Luke shows us how the entire scene converged in the Temple and thus focuses on Jesus who enters it. And it is here, precisely through the prescriptions of the Law, that the principal event is transformed, namely, it becomes the “presentation” of Jesus in the Temple of God, which means the act of offering the Son of the Most High to the Father, Who sent Him. (cf. Lk 1:32, 35).
The second part of Simeon’s proclamation, however, presents the theme of all of today’s readings. After he praises the child, Simeon goes to Mary, blesses her and says: “This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul, too”.
I know that one of the questions I am most often asked is why we suffer. Why does God allow suffering? The answer in these readings seems to be that to suffer is part of the human condition. I do not believe that God punishes us with suffering. Bad things just happen because we are in an imperfect world. But our attitude toward suffering and what we do with that suffering, is exemplified in the model and example Christ provided us through His life on earth.
But if we realize that suffering can make us better people, can refine us, can be a lesson for others as they strive to survive, then we have chosen to use a bad thing to make something better. We, too, can become light for others. I want you think this week about your attitude toward suffering, and if you see an anger, resentment, or “why me?” attitude. Look back on the things you have endured and see if they did not make you a stronger, better person. We don’t have to like suffering, we can even get angry with God about it, but in the end, if we can let ourselves be refined by it, then our lives will have been changed for the better, and probably that of those around us as well.
I wish you all a happy, blessed week ahead.
Fr. Edison Bernavas I.C.