All of you at your baptism were baptized into the Body of Christ. You became a member of Christ’s body. You became another Christ for the world today.
In the rite of baptism, there is a part where the child is supposed to be brought to the altar. A lot of times that doesn’t happen just because the baptismal font isn’t where the altar is, but I always have the child brought to the altar.
I ask the parents to lay the child there and to realize, ultimately, they are giving their child to God. They are uniting their child with Jesus. By doing that, they are uniting that child with the suffering, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord.
If you think about that, for the parent, that’s a pretty tough thing to do, right? Has your child ever been bullied, or picked on, or hurt in any way? If so, you know what a horrible and vulnerable feeling that is. And yet, that’s what we’re all called to in our baptism.
The good news is that we have a mother. Who is our mother? Mary. Mary is our mother. That moment happened at the foot of the cross when, to a beloved disciple, Jesus looked and said, “Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.”
So, you have this mother Mary. The bad news is that you are going to go through the same thing Jesus did.
We hear this, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many and to be a sign that will be contradicted.” You will be a sign, if you live like Christ, which is going to be contradicted.
Contradiction comes from the Latin word “contra,” which means the “opposite of,” and “dicted” is from “diction” which means “word.” So, people are going to say the opposite of whom you truly are. They are going to do it with their words and with their actions.
Then he says to Mary, “and you, yourself, a sword shall pierce.” Our mother’s heart is pierced every time we go through the suffering that Jesus did.
Every time we are hurt, every time we are wounded, every time we are rejected, every time we are abandoned, every time we are criticized, Mary’s heart is wounded so deeply because she is our mother, and she loves us.
I invite all of us, as we reflect on this feast of Candlemas (or the Presentation of the Lord), to present ourselves to God knowing that we are going to go through the same thing that Jesus did.
Maybe you are already going through that now in your life, some form of suffering or dying or rising. We all enter into this paschal mystery.
Let us pray that during this Mass we can truly offer ourselves like we were offered at baptism: taken to the altar. Today, we offer ourselves to this beautiful altar and give ourselves to God.