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Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons.
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Year A | February 1/2, 2014
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the first and second readings.
There is a story of a little boy who was trapped in the upper floors of his house during a fire. His father was standing on the ground pleading for the child to jump. But the little boy kept crying out, “I can’t see you!” Then the Father’s voice cut through the smoke and heat, “But I can see YOU! Trust me. Jump!”
I thought of this story as I was reflecting on Mary and the message that she receives from Simeon.
I can almost picture Mary standing on the window ledge, the heat and smoke of the impending crucifixion increasing with each passing moment. But unlike the little boy, she does not hesitate. She jumps into the arms of a loving God that she trusts is there.
She chooses to face her fear, rather than retreat before it.
I must be frank, these readings are not easy to hear this week.
Because they force us to examine how we respond when we are on the windowsill. When we must face those deaths that we fear in our own lives.
Some of these deaths we may currently be experiencing. They are real and we are forced to endure all of the pain, sorrow, anger, and loss that comes them.
Others are deaths that like Mary’s lie in our future, deaths that we cannot avoid, but must one day face.
Still others are deaths that will never come to pass. But we fear them nonetheless. For they could occur. And it is this uncertainty that paralyzes us.
These deaths come in many forms.
The death of our plans that we have so carefully prepared and dreamt.
The perfect job that we are not chosen for.
The child that can never be conceived.
The mistake that derails our future.
The death of our marriages, our relationships, our partnerships.
The death of our innocence.
When someone breaks our heart.
When someone betrays our trust.
When we are used and abused by another who should know better.
When we finally learn that the world can be unfair, cruel, and cold.
The death of our careers.
The death of our loved ones.
But the hardest death of all, may come when we are faced with the hard reality that God has seemingly failed us. When the rose-colored glasses shatter to the floor and all that we thought we knew is seemingly meaningless.
Where is God when we are faced with each of these deaths?
Where is God in the midst of our fears?
Where is God?
We cry out . . . I can’t see you! The smoke is too thick. The flames are too real. Where are you?
And then in the darkness and confusion and despair, a voice cries out. The voice of Christ, who speaks to us through the Second Reading today. He shouts to us. But I can see you!
I can see your heart and I know what you fear.
For I faced those fears myself.
I climbed my own cross. And I too had to jump, trusting that the arms of my loving God were open. Even when I could not see Him.
Yes, the darkness, the smoke, the flames, the deaths are real.
But so am I. And I have already triumphed over all of these.
For I am the light that cuts through the darkness
I am the Living Water that extinguishes the flames
I am the life that breaks through death
Trust me! Jump.
And so we must. We must jump. Trusting that the God who calls to us is with us.
Banishing our fear.
Freeing us from our chains.
So that we may face our crosses, so that we may embrace whatever deaths lie along the way. Confident that buried in each tomb is the hope of resurrection. That hanging on each cross is the promise of new life. That at the bottom of the jump is our Father ready to catch us.
This is the hope that Christ brings us. This is the hope that brought Simeon peace. This is the hope that carried his mother on her journey.
And it is the hope offered to us.
Be Not Afraid, my friends. Let us jump, together.
May God be Praised.
Image courtesy of creativedoxfoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net