February 2: Presentation of the Lord in the Temple
Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord commonly known as Candle-mass. Forty days after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph brought the Child to the great Temple in Jerusalem. There they presented Jesus to the Heavenly Father. That was the Jewish law. The Holy Family obeyed it with loving hearts.
While they were in the Temple, Mary also fulfilled another requirement of the law. After the birth of their children, all Jewish mothers were supposed to go to the Temple for the ceremony called the Purification. Mary did her duty cheerfully. She teaches us to be humble and obedient as she was. Mary and Joseph were not a wealthy couple and they could not afford the offering presented by people of means. They offered the alternative offering for their son's redemption, a couple of turtledoves that would be exchanged for money at the Temple entrance.
A holy old priest of the Temple named Simeon learned from God that the Infant Jesus was truly the Savior. With what joy he held Mary's Son in his arms. "My own eyes are looking at my salvation," he exclaimed. God let him recognize Jesus as the Savior and Simeon put his trust in the little Child. Imagine what Mary and Joseph were thinking. Then, inspired by God, Simeon told Mary that she would have to suffer very much. He was talking about the terrible pain our Blessed Mother would feel when Jesus died on the cross.
This feast of the Presentation reminds us that we belong to God first of all. Because he is our Father and Creator, we owe him our loving obedience.
Today's mass is also known as Candle Mass from an ancient tradition of the members of the Faithful carrying candles to the church in procession in honor of the presentation of Jesus who is the Light of the world.
St. Don Bosco:
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. John Bosco'. When I was a little boy, the Italian priest from our parish used to show us slide shows of saints. One of them was St. Don Bosco. It was such an inspiring story and I wondered if I could ever be like Don Bosco. It was due to his inspiration that I learned the art of cobbler and used to repair other students' shoes in seminary. Something else I dreamed of was to learn Italian and visit Turin where the Saint came from. Up to this day my dreams are yet to be fulfilled. Don Bosco was born during the time of industrial revolution. If you do not know what that is, just think of the Occupy Wall Street and the great revolutions going on in the Middle East. Don Bosco' came from a poor family and his father died when he was only two years old. When he went to seminary, his clothes were provided from charity. It was an age of anti-clericalism. Priests were known to enrich themselves adapting a lifestyle that was not meant to be theirs which might have created a negative public opinion towards them.
After becoming a priest, instead of ingratiating himself with worldly things and luxury, Don Bosco sought after protecting and providing for destitute children. Many children were neglected to fend for themselves. They had no food, clothing or education. Most were homeless. Without funds, but with the help of his mother, Don Bosco founded a house for the boys. In 1857 it opened with six boys. In 1862 the number had grown to 600. Before joining seminary, Don Bosco had trained himself many different skills such as the art of cobbler, printing, and carpentry. These skills came hardy when he founded the home for destitute boys. He not only provided shelter, but also education in printing, bookbinding, shoemaking, carpentry etc. He emphasized very much on prayer and devotion to the Blessed Mother. The youth loved and respected him. One time he was ill to the point of death and even the doctors gave up on him. His boys rather organized days of fasting and prayer for him. The miracle happened and he recovered.
Don Bosco was like a father to the boys. He was very patient with them. His comment was that instead of punishing them for their faults, he should punish his lack of patience. While others during the era involved themselves with rhetorical fight against roots of social injustice, Don Bosco chose the practical way. He lived a poor man, and died a poor man. He devoted himself entirely to the service of others and especially the most vulnerable in the society.
Don Bosco is still a great inspiration for our time. He started the Salesian Brothers in honor of St. Francis de Sales who gave him great inspiration. With the help of St. Mary Mazzarello he also started the Salesian Sisters. Both orders are still flourishing in the world with their charism to elevate the life of the youth throughout the world by teaching them skills and faith. We need the inspiration of St. Don Bosco today as never before. In our times we have read or heard stories of exploitation of children in all ways. Unfortunately some who have been entrusted with the care of minors and those most vulnerable have been accused of molesting them. The year 2002 started with headlines detailing despicable stories of clergymen who abused and sexually exploited children instead of protecting them and showing them guidance. It is a shameful act which has left the church with a great reputation of incredibility. We must pray and ask God to send other Don Boscos who will not abuse or exploit children but protect them and show them guidance for a bright future in this world of uncertainties.
Don Bosco died on 31st January, 1888. Pope Pius XI who was acquainted with him as a young parish priest canonized him a saint in 1934.