Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
February 2nd, 2014
Year A

Have you ever wondered: “what exactly do priests do all day?” I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked this question. Mostly, I get it from children – and to their credit because when I was kid, I saw my parish priest on Sunday for Mass and maybe he would make an appearance at CCD. So, it is a valid question. What makes me think of it today is because in the Church, we celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Consecrated Life. Along these lines, I recently went to visit the Visitation Monastery in Tyringham, MA. The sisters that live there are cloistered and every so often they ask me to give a lecture on various topics – such as liturgy and sacraments. On Wednesday of this past week, I was there for a lecture on the Holy Eucharist. It got me thinking about the nuns and what consecrated life means. The word ‘consecrate’ has some very significant meanings: sanctify, bless, set apart, make holy. These nuns – and really, all those who give their whole lives to Christ in service of the Church: priests, nuns, religious brothers/sister and the consecrated single life – give of themselves everyday to holiness. They set themselves apart from the world in order to be sanctified, blessed, made holy by God.

Think about this in light of the ability on the part of both Simeon and Anna to recognize immediately that this little baby is the Messiah. St. Luke gives us some insight into how that it is possible. He calls Simeon “righteous and devout” and notes that Anna “never left the Temple, but worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer.” They completely immersed themselves in prayer, in worship, and in sacrifice. They engaged their faith; they put something into it – namely their whole selves. They dedicated themselves to God and the Temple in order to be blessed, sanctified, made holy by Him whom they love and serve. They lived, perhaps, the earliest form of consecrated life. As such, they were given a spiritual vision – the ability to see beyond the appearance. They didn’t just see a baby come into the Temple; they saw God and thus became a witness to His divinity.

They teach us something, 2 things in particular. One the one hand, they give us a model for religious life, for the consecrated life. The whole of their lives is lived for the day when they are given the vision of the Messiah. So much so, that they give up of the totality of their lives for it. This is what the consecrated life is all about – giving up of one’s whole life in order to be made holy by God, sanctified by God and lived as such. The consecrated life, therefore, is meant to be a sign of life in the Kingdom – a vision of eternal life. Some of you in this chapel are called to this life. I encourage you to listen carefully to the voice of Jesus: does He desire that you live a life so dedicated to Him and the Church that you are meant to be a sign of the kingdom? Secondly, by devoting their whole attention to seeing the Messiah, they prove to us that it is entirely possible to see God. The key is, however, that we have to put something into it. This is extraordinary because even in the midst of our ordinary lives, we are meant to be the Simeon’s and Anna’s of our own day. We can have this same vision. We are given many opportunities to engage more fully in our lives of faith through sincere prayer, spiritual sacrifices – like fasting or some other form of penance – by immersing ourselves in the scriptures, and by frequenting the sacraments of confession and Holy Communion. We have to devote our attention to it, put something into living more fully the Christian life. By doing these things, we not only will have a more profound spiritual vision but we become light – God’s light. We become His witnesses. For the more we draw closer to Him, to His light, the more we become light, the more we begin to reflect that light.

This is not always easy. There is an element of fear that can hold us back. This fear can be completely debilitating. In this fear we find the meaning behind Simeon’s words: “this child is destined to be for the fall and rise of many…” In other words, for those who completely accept Jesus, that live their faith to its full, Jesus will be their life, their joy, their everything – like He was for Simeon, Anna and even as He is for the Visitation sisters and many consecrated religious in the world today. For those who reject Him, turn away from Him because of sin or disbelief, He will be their downfall. There will be people who totally reject God in their lives. We cannot force anyone to believe. Fear, however, can be worse than rejection because we live with the knowledge that we know we should be doing more, we even may desire it, yet cannot seem to move because the fear is too great. In this sense, Jesus can be our downfall because He continues to call us to task and challenges us to overcome fear and live the faith.

Sometimes I think instead of asking: “what do priests do all day?” I think a better question is this: “how can I see God more clearly in my life?” My answer to this: be holy. Jesus gives us Himself, His whole entire self, because He is madly in love with us. If we want to see Him, we have to give Him ourselves. We have to put something into this relationship – namely, our selves. Don’t hold back, don’t be afraid, give Him your heart.

















Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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