..feast of the Presentation of child Jesus in Temple ; his coming of age Mary & Joseph sacrificing his future into the hands & heart of God ..they came, as we come this evg/morning to seek to enter into a relationship of intimacy, which will prove, for God & for you, to be irresistible.. “for he is like the refiners fire” in 1st rdg prophet Malachi story of young man crossing desert , walking for a week & seen no one..& up ahead he sees small dot ; eventually as he gets closer he sees it is an old man ..he is squatting next to fire & on the fire is vat of boiling liquid..young man watches fascinated every so often old man creams off surface of liquid with ladel.. he then approaches old man & asks what he is doing ..old man smiles knowingly “I’m gradually skimming off the dross from this liquid [ gold ] until I can eventually look into it & see the face of God” ..our daily journey of presentation & refinement, until we see in person next to you now the face & the mercy of Christ..
“..he will purify them..” & Lord purify us.. ; Lord have mercy “..refine them like gold & silver..” ..Christ refine us.. ; Christ have mercy “..then they will make the offering to the Lord “ ..this offering to Our Lord ..”as it should be made..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..a sense of being short-changed in that gospel; some liturgist has decided to give you the short form; in Year of the Word 1500 words struck out, kept from you like MP’s expenses..it is a story of two halves; in football terms some of us will feel by half time we are 2-0 down as the legal eagles have the sway/ascendency, quoting Law of Moses, observing what stands written in the Law of Lord, sacrifice in accordance with the letter of the Law; it is the vat & liquidity of the Law that fills it to brim; the Law 2-0 up; & never doubt its necessity our faith history & its journey thus far solid reliable predictable “Roma locuta ; causa finite” Rome has spoken, the matter is closed; & then a part 2 the second half of match when dross of the Law begins to be skimmed off, as real people are noticed/named & appear; in Simeon we get his real presence the sacrament of the present moment; divinity personified in the Holy Spirit; the turtle doves/pigeons contained in the precincts of Temple give way to freedom emerging warmth of Holy Spirit, who goes where she [she] pleases, recreates face of the earth & recreates face & heart of this our Parish..Simeon “looked forward & the H/S rested on him” & on you & I, present here & now in this temple, obeying what stands written in the law of Catholicism the catechism & papal documents; however, now [now] a part 2 relationship, revealed to us too that we “shall never see death until we have set our eyes on the Christ of the Lord”..his real presence in real time “how many times last wk did you see the Christ of the Lord?”..last Sun afternoon, going into Morrisons in Boroughbridge, lady in front of me took a hand basket from stack, turned round & without hesitation gave it to me..en route to Midday Prayer on Monday from my office a distance of 250yds I met & waved/chatted to nine members of our staff..”how many times?” “because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see”..for the villagers of Oswaldkirk Ampleforth & Gilling..& who pray has our prim & proper liturgist omitted from the full story, its equally key character alongside Simeon? Anna..edited out by gum; a woman & why?..the question mark which helps keep flame of our faith alive..Anna, like vatman in desert, woman of deep prayer & patience, steadily refining her prayerful relationship with her God night & day..a conduit of grace bringing/carrying grace of the divine to servant in difficulties; a life challenged & gradually inspired by question mark, the act of faith we mentioned last week..remember?..”why my husband?..why has God dealt me this hand?” to live with question mark & doubtfulness, & to pray incessantly & seemingly find no answer for myself nor for countless others I intercede for, & yet gradually discover Christ in person in a radiologist, heart surgeon, a palliative care nurse, or a retired schoolteacher like Mary; a daily Mass attender in Bamber Bridge until her health deteriorated & she became housebound; her cottage & her appearance ever impeccable, until she found herself confined to one downstairs room in front of coal fire in some squalor; I would take her Communion each week at all sorts of different times, knock on door & go in.. always open welcoming..one item she kept clean polished marble statue of Our Lady & in front of it a thick candle always lit..”who is candle lit for today Mary?” & her litany would begin “Margaret at no 6 who is having tests at Royal Preston ; Williams grandson taking exams ; John round the corner just made redundant; Joanna’s new baby Jonathan.. the pandemic in China”..an Anna..a moment now to celebrate our own elderly Anna’s in our parish, who would appear to be disabled in terms of active involvement in our shared apostolate, & yet in this our northern spiritual powerhouse, we are so dependent on them for their powerful daily prayers for us & for many others beyond our valley & parish of milk & honey..this value added parish where our need of Simeon & Anna is a given, & now acknowledged & celebrated; reliable figures of maturity & wisdom ; those who have been to Gethsemane & Good Friday & back, & all without them telling it.. you know it by who they are. Word “widow” in Hebrew almanah means “unable to speak” she/they now speaks out in their silence & contemplation for the child who will bring about the redemption of Jerusalem..for the child in this Church this weekend who will bring, in God’s own good time, the redemption of our parish; there was amazement at what Simeon said, but Anna has no audience for her prophecy except the Word himself, Jesus.. ..would you ever wonder why a prim & proper liturgist could ever think of denying us the real presence of the divine prayer par excellence ?..& equally concerning why our Church today in this Year of the Word could ever think of denying us the whole story & the whole truth ?..”I am the Way the Truth & the Life”..fully present & now fully presented.. [ Presentation of the Lord; Lk 2;22-40 ]