Message from Father Jason
January 28, 2017
“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” This verse, which we hear in this Sunday’s Gospel, is the culmination of the beatitudes. The iconic “blessed are” statements are reminders of how God has favored us. Many of them speak of his favor, even in the midst of our poverty, our smallness, our mourning, our suffering, our battles against evil.
Perhaps at no time do we feel more able to rejoice and be glad in God’s blessing than at Christmas. That celebration may feel like a distant memory at this point, but this week, forty days after the birth of Jesus, the celebration continues as we recount the Presentation of Jesus. This celebration recounts another step in Jesus becoming present in our world, as He was presented to Simeon in the Temple, who proclaims, “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled.” The Presentation of Jesus is a celebration with special ritual attached to it, the procession and blessing of candles. Once again, as throughout Advent and into the twelve days of Christmas, we are made aware of the light of Christ, whose sacrifice for our salvation, shines into the darkness of our world. His light is what moves us to “Rejoice and be glad.”
Also this week is the celebration of the memorial of Saint Blaise. Saint Blaise was a fourth century bishop of Armenia (modern day Turkey) who was martyred for his witness of the faith. While in prison, it is believed that he miraculously intervened and saved a boy who was choking on a fish bone. His story was not forgotten and by the sixth century there is evidence of prayers to him for healing of diseases of the throat. By the sixteenth century, a ritual of blessing throats with crossed candles was widespread.
As we push our way through the gloominess of January, all the while doing our best to avoid the respiratory problems that our damp, cold weather brings this time of year, these celebrations bring a little light into our darkness. Dare to rejoice and be glad, for Jesus is presenting opportunities to you to enter into the warmth of the light he shines into the world.
May God bless you with the ability to rejoice and be glad as you marvel in His wondrous light and seek His protection against winter’s ailments.