Weekly I love being able to participate in the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism here at St. Pat’s. Our parish must have one of the highest rates of Baptisms in the Archdiocese. The, anxiousness and timidity of new parents, and the pride and joy of all parents as they bring their child to our community for the rite of Baptism is profound. In presenting their child, and in our community praying for the children, we hopefully see something beyond ourselves. We see how, through God’s grace, in Baptism our IDENTITY can indeed be changed to reflect that of Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple. The presentation of a firstborn child in C1st Palestine meant the purification of the mother and demanded a sacrifice. Poor people such as Mary and Joseph would perhaps offer a sacrifice of a pigeon, as they would not be able to afford a lamb. The notion of Sacrifice in ancient cultures is complex, but Simeon in today’s Gospel realises that Jesus will be the Ultimate and Final Sacrifice, when he exclaims:
My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see.
Simeon also recognises that this child will bring Sacrifice for the people of Israel – “he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel” and also of Mary’s Sacrifice “ . . . and a sword will pierce your own soul too . . “
Love and Integrity insists upon the free gift of Sacrifices. We each have to do this fine juggling at times, to try and keep my: spiritual; home; work; leisure; social; health; academic; etc, lives on track. At times, we have to determine what I will Sacrifice and what I won’t Sacrifice. Our Integrity depends on the decisions we make when we are juggling these busy roles. But, I have to see the Sacrifice I make as a GIFT, not as reluctantly being imposed on me.
Sacrifice as a GIFT I give, then gives me an Integrity linked to Christ.