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Sunday:       The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Date:         November 21, 2016.
Year:         C
The readings: [Rev. 14:1-3, 4b-5; Lk. 21:1-4]
The message:  Faithfully serving the Lord God.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry.
Total words:  725

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** The readings follow the sermon.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Feast of the Presentation of Mary. The origin of this Feast is at least 400 years old. It was first commemorated in the Western Liturgical Calendar in 1585.

Some of you may wonder why we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Mary. It is to commemorate the day on which the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saints Anne and Joachim, presented Mary at the age of three to the Temple of God. This was done in accordance with the Jewish Custom that parents present their child to God at the Temple before the age of five.

In a way, we can say that the Presentation of Mary to the Temple is a picture of the Baptism of infants, when the newborns are presented to God for admission into the Body of Christ.

Another parallel that is found in the Jewish tradition versus today is in the education of the children. In the days of the Old Testament, children who remained in the Temple as Mary did, were educated in the ways of God by the priest. Nowadays, those who are baptized as infants, they are educated in the Catholic faith by their parents and godparents who are members of the common priesthood. [1 Pet. 2:5]

When I say, "they are educated in the Catholic faith," this is to be understood as a reference to those parents and godparents who fulfill their promises before God and the Church by nurturing the child in the Catholic Faith.

Today's First Reading from the Book of Daniel [1 Dan. 1:1-6. 8-20] is biblically known as "The Food Test." It is a reference to the time in the Jewish history when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Jerusalem and took the Jewish people into exile.

As we heard earlier, some men, namely Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the tribe of Judah, were chosen to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans while residing in the palace of king Nebuchadnezzar. During this residence, they were assigned a daily portion of the royal rations of food and wine. This food consisted of a pork, a meat that was considered unclean by the Jewish people. For that reason, they were forbidden to eat any of it.

When we consider how the chain of events occurred, Daniel and his friends did not having to eat any of the pork, the First Reading implies that God did not allow the young men of the Babylonian Exile to suffer harm when they refused to partake of the pagans' food and drink. It also implies that in time of hardship, during exile and persecution, those who refused to violate the Mosaic Law by not eating pork, heavenly aid would be sent to them in one form or another. In this case, the palace master had been hand chosen by God to care for Daniel and his friends. Because of the palace master's flexibility on the matter of what should be eaten and drank, the Jewish men were able to remain faithful to the Mosaic Law. What they wished in their hearts was fulfilled by the grace of God.

To adapt this reading to today and our life in the Church, it can be said that those that those who wish to remain faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the Lord God shall provide them with the means to do so. Even in time of obstacles, the grace of God is always at work. To perceive this grace, we must pray for guidance of the Holy Spirit and take the time to listen so we can hear in our heart what the Spirit of Jesus is telling us, which way He is guiding us in life on a day to day basis.

During the remaining of the day, let us reflect on how the grace of God is manifesting itself through us because of our faithfulness to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Do we back off as soon as an obstacle presents itself? Or do we remain faithful, trusting in the Lord Jesus to provide all of our needs?

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"In my vision I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Fatherís name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth.

These follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless." [Rev. 14:1-3, 4b-5]

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Gospel Reading...

Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, 'Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.'" [Lk. 21:1-4]

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