Set Aside for God - Weekday Homily Video
Today is forty days after the celebration of the birth of Jesus. In Jewish culture, forty days after a child was born, the child was presented by the parents to God in the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Law of Moses, all the first-born male children and animals belonged to God. Animals were sacrificed, but for children, the parents presented the child to God but bought an animal to be sacrificed and went back home with their first-born child.
As devout Jews, Joseph and Mary made the trip to Jerusalem to present the child Jesus to God in the temple and consecrate Him to God as was the tradition for all first-born boys. Being poor, they could not afford a goat or a sheep that was required of such presentations; instead, they used the alternative, which was a pair of turtle doves, as an offering.
This feast day is also known as “Candle Mass Day” where Christ is presented as the light of the world. Candles are lit to symbolize what He meant for the world, as well as the invitation all the baptized have to be light to the world.
World Day for Consecrated Life
This day was also designated by St. John Paul II as the “World Day for Consecrated Life.” St. John Paul II said that the purpose for setting aside a special day for consecrated life was “to help the entire Church to esteem more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels” (vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity); and for the day “to be a suitable occasion for consecrated persons to renew their commitment and rekindle the fervor which should inspire their offering of themselves to the Lord.”
Please remember all of us vowed religious on this special day when we reflect on our vocation in the Church. If you have any friends who belong to a religious order such as the Franciscans, the Benedictines, the Dominicans, the Holy Cross, the Carthusians, the Salesians, the Missionaries of Charity, the Divine Mercy, the Augustinians, etc.—this is a day to wish them a Happy Feast Day and affirm them in their vocation!
From Ordinary to Sacred
When we speak about “consecrating” something or someone, we mean declaring it or setting it aside for sacred purposes. It can be an article, it can be a building, it can be a person—set aside for God or sacred roles. In our Mass today, the bread and the wine, fruit of human hands, is going to be presented to God as gifts; it will be prayed over and consecrated to become the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Through a sacred process, ordinary things or ordinary people can be transformed into something totally different that belongs to God or is of God.
Our Church has different acts of consecrating our individual selves, consecrating spaces, and consecrating articles—and setting them aside for God and for sacred purposes. These are practices we need to renew in our individual, family, and community lives. In the past, homes used to have home altars where they set aside spaces dedicated to God. In the past, people used to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Immaculate Heart of Mary—where they set themselves apart for sacred purposes. These are valuable practices we need to look into and put to use.
Lent by God
In this Mass, we are reminded that whatever we have has been “lent to us by God.” Today is a good day for us to ask ourselves: which part of my life do I need to consecrate to God? What is it that I own that I need to increasingly look at more as a gift from God?
May the Lord imbue us with a spirit of gratitude, and more importantly, a spirit of generosity to return to Him part of what He has gifted us.
- Father Fred's inspirational homily was recorded live during Mass at the Father Peyton Center this morning. Please view the video on our Facebook page. (You don't need a Facebook account to view.)
- To view the Rosary prayer and Mass streaming live, please visit our Facebook page at 11:30 a.m. Eastern, Monday – Friday. Please invite your loved ones to join us too! (If you are not a member of Facebook and a signup window appears, simply select the X at the top of the pop-up message and continue to the livestream.)
About Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C.
Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C. is the President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. Father Fred, a native of Uganda, has multiple degrees including theology, philosophy, and communications. His native language is Lusoga and he speaks English, Luganda, Kiswahili, and Rutooro. He has been a teacher, researcher, author and family minister. Father Fred is committed to helping build God’s masterpiece one family at a time.