Deacon Cornell’s Homily


Malachi 3:1-4
Hebrews 2:14-18
Luke 2:22-40


February 1-2, 2014, Presentation of the Lord, Cycle A

Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming?

An author for Reader's Digest writes how he studied the Amish people in preparation for an article on them. In his observation at the school yard, he noted that the children never screamed or yelled. This amazed him. He spoke to the schoolmaster. He remarked how he had not once heard an Amish child yell, and asked why the schoolmaster thought that was so. The schoolmaster replied, "Well, have you ever heard an Amish adult yell?"

The implication, of course, is that parent behavior is a pretty good predictor of child behavior. And I would go further and say that adult behavior is a pretty good predictor of child behavior in any culture or society. And as true as that is in general, it is even truer for how we pass on our faith.

All of the adults in today’s gospel model something important about the responsibility all of us have by baptism to pass on the faith to the next generation.

Let's start with Mary and Joseph. They are following the teachings of their religion. Every first born male must be presented at the temple 40 days after birth and and an offering made as a reminder that the first born of the Israelites were spared on the night God led them out of Egypt. This was a hard journey to make on foot and maybe donkey. Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus following the rules and practices of his Jeweish religion. His first teachers were his parents. It is no different today; that is why the Church is very explicit in stating that the parents are the first and most effective ones to pass on the faith to their children, primarily by their example.

We explicitly ask parents who bring there children for baptism if they understand that in doing so they are taking on the responsibility of bringing their child up in the faith. And by faith the church means how they live, not what they believe. But it is not just parents who are responsible for this. One of the reasons we celebrate baptisms at weekend masses is because the community takes on that responsibility. We symbolize this by inviting all to sign the new Christian at the beginning.

Living our Catholic faith means more than just coming to mass and saying our prayers.

Do we teach the young generation by our involvement in parish life, as ushers or servers or lectors or the St. Vincent dePaul society, and on and on. What about even deepening our faith by coming to GOF? Or taking advantage of the many adult education opportunities offered by the Archdiocese or neighboring parishes.

All too often when parishioners (and not just in this parish) are asked what the top priority should be for our pastoral planning, the answer is that we need to get the young people involved. That should be a high priority but I would suggest that the best way to do that is to follow Mary and Joseph's example, and get more involved ourselves. And not just those who have young children, but all of us together, building a culture of living out our faith.

But we can learn, not just from Mary and Joseph, but from Simeon and Anna. The Temple at Jerusalem was a very busy place, filled with worshippers and priests and Levite's even outside the major feasts.  But of all those coming and going, only Anna and Simeon were aware of who Jesus was. They recognized him because both had been praying and watching for the chosen one, the messiah. They were actively waiting, responding to the work of the Spirit that is in all of us.

Last GOF session we talked about encountering Christ. Many of us cannot honestly say that we have had a personal encounter with Christ not because he is hard to find, or is somehow hidden, but because we have not prepared ourselves so that we can recognize him. I dare say that many of us come to Mass week after week and never have that encounter. Part of this is not knowing what to look for, part of it is not actively waiting and being aware of our encounters.

My prayer today is that we let the example of Mary and Joseph, and Anna and Simeon inspire us to reflect on what we are doing to live out the prescriptions of our Catholic faith, and whether there is a way to be more active in that lived out faith.

Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming?

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