It’s only every several years that the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord falls on a Sunday, so it may be more familiar to those who attend daily mass. But it’s an important enough feast that when it does fall on a Sunday of Ordinary Time, it replaces that Sunday’s usual prayers and readings. That is the case this year.
The reading from Luke’s gospel we hear this weekend is an account of how Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem in accordance with Jewish law, and of how two holy people who had been waiting faithfully for the Messiah (Simeon and Anna) reacted when they encountered Jesus. I’m struck by several things in the story. One is that Jesus was a Jew, as were his entire family and ancestry. He was brought up from the beginning to be observant of God’s law, to worship in the temple or synagogue, to observe the prescribed rituals, and to live justly and righteously, awaiting the fulfillment of God’s promise. Others much wiser than I have pondered at what point Jesus became aware that he was the Christ, the one that had been promised. The Scriptures tell us that he grew in grace, wisdom and favor.
The faith of Simeon and Anna is also significant. In particular, it seems that Simeon never doubted that God would fulfill what had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit – that he would not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. I love the way Simeon addresses God upon meeting Jesus after having waited for so long: “Now, Master you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation”. And Anna embodies our parish mission statement: “And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were waiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” She encountered Jesus. She became a disciple.
The humility of Mary and Joseph is also compelling. Here are two people who have experienced a lot of supernatural events: Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary that she would be the Mother of the Savior, Joseph being counseled in a dream to go ahead and take Mary into his home even though she was with child, the journey to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus in the stable, the angels sending shepherds to worship the child, the star which guided the Magi with their gifts to the child, the escape from Herod’s slaughter of the innocent – again prompted by Joseph’s dream. One might think they would become used to strange
and wonderful events. Yet they were “amazed” at what Simeon said about the child.
In the letter to the Hebrews (our second reading) we hear a little more about the meaning of the gift of Jesus Christ: “…He had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”
Brothers and sisters, that is us.
Liturgy and Music Minister
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Dear Parish Family,
As I was reflecting over the readings, I remembered a time when I was about 10 years old. I woke up in the middle of the night and as I sat up in my bed, I looked across the room; I thought I saw someone sitting on my chair. I immediately was frightened — who could it be, how did they get in? As scared as I was and noticing that they were not moving at all, I needed to at least turn on the lights. Now in a well lit room I could clearly see that the “person” sitting in my chair was actually just my big stuffed toy that I had forgotten I had left on my chair instead of putting it away. I even chuckled a bit when I realized how silly it was for me to have been scared. What joy and relief to have the light on to see clearly, to see things as they really are and not as I was imagining them to be.
In our first reading we are told, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing.” Is 9 12 The Light they experience is the light of God, his presence. In God’s light, everything assumes a new significance, its authentic and definitive meaning. In our Gospel, our first reading is once again echoed, a “light has arised.” As Jesus begins his ministry he calls on his first disciples. He assures them if they follow him he will make them fishers of men. They leave everything and they follow him.
Their willingness to leave everything and follow him, makes me think they could see clearly, perhaps not with their human eyes, but with their soul. The light of God made it possible for them to see clearly this was the path they must follow. May we too see Christ’s light as clearly, for there is a joy and happiness that becomes real in Jesus’ presence. He is the promised light that has come into our midst, His physical presence. Even today we are honored with his presence in the Eucharist. In Jesus we have everything.
Faith Formation Minister
“Behold the Lamb of God”: Another one of those profound Church sayings that we may take for granted. In our modern age, I’m not sure if we have any attachment to what a lamb is. We know it’s a farm animal, but what significance is that to God?
For me, it was just a phrase that didn’t make sense that I never really dove into. Why is Christ being the Lamb of God so significant? Because Christ is willing to be so. The reality is, Christ knew His mission, to be sacrificed for the sake of all of us so the gates of heaven can be opened for all.
Throughout the Old Testament there are so many instances of a lamb being sacrificed in place of others. The lamb is such a significant symbol, that those who are well versed in the Old Testament cannot think of the lamb in any other such way, (i.e., the sacrificed animal with Abraham and Isaac), the lamb’s theme will always be a means for sacrifice.
So why is this so important? Because of all the events of Salvation History, God allows His only begotten Son to be the sacrifice for all of us to open the gates of heaven. The ultimate sacrificial lamb, led to slaughter, for the sake of our eternal relationship with God.
If you’re like me, you may take a lot of “Church sayings” for granted, but what helps me to be in tune with our liturgy is to allow these terms to have the same strong meaning as for those who heard them for the first time.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year!
Youth and Young Adult Minister
1950 - 2020
Vigil / Rosary
Monday, January 20
Tuesday, January 21
Padre Serra Parish
5205 Upland Rd, Camarillo, CA 93012
When I first saw this photo, I was knocked out. Most clergy say their ordination day was the most important day in their life. Most married people say: our wedding day.
For Pope Saint John Paul II, it was his baptism day (June 20, 1920). Here he is, on his first trip back to Poland after being elected pope, visiting his baptismal font and leaving a new paschal candle as a gift to the church (the church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Wadowice, Poland).
In what church building were you baptized? What was the date? Who was the deacon or priest? Who are your godparents? For which saints and persons are you named?
Your baptism confirmed the promise God made the moment you were conceived: “This is my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
No one sang that better than Jeanne-Paule Marie Deckers (1933–1985), “The Singing Nun”:
ENTRE LES ETOILES/AMONG THE STARS
Among the stars the Lord has written your name, among the stars, way up high in his dwelling-place.
Among the stars the Lord placed your life, among the stars close to him in Paradise.
The night when God desired you, the night, that night when your life was fashioned from two bodies,
that night when His love first smiled upon you,
Blessed be that night.
The day that God redeemed you, on that day
the day He made you His child forever
the day when He made His dwelling in your heart
Blessed be that day.
The evening when God will call you, that evening,
That evening when your waning days will hasten your departure,
That evening of reunion, transfigured by hope,
Blessed be that evening.
Among the stars the Lord has written your name,
among the stars, way up high in his dwelling-place.
Among the stars the Lord placed your life,
among the stars close to him in Paradise.
Dr. Paul Ford
Professor of Theology and Liturgy
St. John’s Seminary
1930 - 2020
Monday, February 3
St. Mary Magdalen Chapel
2532 Ventura Blvd, Camarillo
Tuesday, February 4
St. Mary Magdalen Chapel
2532 Ventura Blvd, Camarillo
I have to admit that I like daylight savings time. Pictures of snowy landscapes capture the feeling of winter much better. Winter is associated with snow and freezing temperatures and death is a real possibility if you find yourself stranded on a highway in the middle of a winter storm as in my home state of Montana. The changing of the seasons to being colder and getting dark much earlier can be disorienting, even here in California. There is a redeeming quality, however, to this darkness. I like to spend time looking at night sky. There is a sense of wonder in being able to experience the expanse and beauty of the cosmos. The darkness broken by the starlight captures the sense of this season. Cosmology is the story of birth, development, and destiny of the universe and it is told with the aim of assisting us in our task of identifying our roles within this great drama. A Belgian physicist and priest postulated that there was a beginning to the universe and this became known as the Big Bang. Scientists have been able to calculate the age of the universe with a fair amount of accuracy, 13.7 billion years. Because all life is part of this single cosmic event, all life is connected at its most basic level. Our solar system came about as the result of a supernova explosion, the death eruption of a primal star. Death is integral to life. Yet from the very beginning the trajectory of the universe has been toward life.
Epiphany is a time to reflect on the meaning of Incarnation, God here and with us now and make the journey ourselves. God emptied himself to become like us so that we might become more like God. This is our hope, to enter more fully into this relationship. The metaphor of the magi following a star, risking their survival and traveling a great distance to discover this is fitting. The idea of relationship is central. The wisdom of the Catholic tradition is that salvation is possible in and through the community. We say as Catholics that we are saved in community that includes everybody. This idea is not necessarily even something we long for.
I really believe that our experience of Epiphany must be more than just hearing about the Magi. We must be willing to encounter God in this season by risking our own journey, as difficult as it may be, so that we can honestly experience the selfrevelation that we need in order to see God beyond ourselves. Epiphany reminds us that the trajectory of creation is toward life. Epiphany is about searching for God beyond ourselves in order that we might enter more fully enter into the mystery of the Incarnation, God
here and with us now. We are called to be active participants in this great drama and search for what it means when we say that salvation is possible in and through the community. May your Epiphany be one of discovery.
Deacon Bob Fargo