Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

05 February 2024

Appears in: Messages and Homilies

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord


[Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 24; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40]

Following mass this evening, we are holding a vocations rally. Parishioners from around the Archdiocese have been invited to gather for this event and ponder how we might deepen a culture of vocations here in this local Church.

The theme chosen for the rally is: “All hands on deck!” The expression springs from the practice of a ship’s captain calling the entire personnel to get onto the deck of the vessel in response to a need. By extension it has generally come to mean the need to have everyone involved to help with a particular challenge.

We are facing a significant challenge in our Archdiocese when it comes to the question of vocations to priesthood or consecrated life. There are simply too few of them, and we need everyone to come together to face the challenge. Of course, we are grateful to God for the men and women who currently serve the Church with great zeal and devotion, and for the many people seriously engaged in discerning how the Lord is calling them. Yet it remains true that the need to ask God to send more labourers into the harvest is urgent.

The urgency of the need is underscored by our celebration this evening of the Presentation of the Lord. The heart of the Church’s proclamation through this liturgy is that Jesus Christ has come into the world as light, the light for all peoples. We hear this announcement given by Simeon, as he receives from Mary and Joseph the child Jesus. Praising the fidelity of God, he says: “my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32). In Jesus Christ, God’s saving love is revealed as extending to all people, without condition and absent of all distinction.

It now belongs to the Church to echo Simeon’s announcement. This task of the People of God was symbolized at the beginning of mass with the lighting and blessing of candles. Our call is to announce Christ as the light – the one and only light – that reveals to the world the wonder and love of God and thus dispel the darkness that otherwise envelops the peoples.

This is, indeed, urgent, and all hands are needed for the Church to live out its mission. In our day, darkness is increasingly prevalent. Gloom and despair are overshadowing nations and peoples at war, societies marred by moral confusion, families struggling with disappointed hopes, and individuals – especially youth – striving to find a reason for hope. When a ship’s captain calls out “All hands on deck”, it is often in the face of an urgent crisis. Well, our world today finds itself before just that: a crisis so pressing that it demands everyone work together to face and overcome it. It is a crisis of hope.

The one sure answer to that crisis is Jesus Christ and the light he brings, the light he is. It falls to all of us, as members of his Body, to make him known. So, the call of the Church to each and every one of us is: All hands on deck! None of us can remain indifferent to the challenge before us.

Practically speaking, what this means is that each of us be carefully attentive to what the Lord himself is asking of us. He alone sees the challenge in perfect clarity, and he alone knows what must be done. It belongs to the Lord so to assign the tasks that all can work harmoniously and effectively in accordance with his direction.

So, to young adults pondering the future trajectory of your life’s course, be humbly and fully open to the voice of Jesus. Be ready to follow wherever he leads and to accept however he is summoning you to participate in his mission of being light for all peoples. Priesthood, consecrated life, whether in a congregation or as a single person, and Christian marriage – each of these vocations fits wonderfully and beautifully within the Lord’s plan to overcome the darkness with the refulgence of his light.

And to those of us who have already been placed upon a particular path and have our assigned place in the Church: we, too, must remain open to the Holy Spirit’s daily promptings, which inspire and enable us to remain faithful to our respective duties and thus serve the Lord’s mission. Let us never forget that the Lord is in charge of his Church, that he knows what he is doing, and knows as well what we must do to remain in effective communion with his saving purpose.

All hands on deck. This evening that call comes to us within our place of worship. Just as the Holy Spirit prompted Simeon to go to the Temple that he might encounter Christ, the Light and Hope of the world, so, too, does he move us to come to this temple to meet our Lord in the Eucharist and then announce and his reflect his light to our world. From our communion with the Lord, may we receive every grace we need to hear the Lord’s call clearly, and respond with faith, enthusiasm, and joy.

Most Reverend Richard W. Smith

Saint Joseph Basilica

February 2, 2024