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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Fifth Sunday of the Year – 5th February 2012
Not for the faint-hearted

On Thursday I had dinner in Whetstone with one of my priest friends. In his church the crib was still up. That might sound strange to those of us from these islands but many of you from continental Europe are probably used to seeing the Holy Family in the stable until 2 February. And on that subject, one particular style of these crib figures made by the Jerusalem Benedictines has Our Lady so designed that she can be kneeling in adoration of the child in the manger or cradling him her arms.

On Thursday Mary carries her son to the temple which is a place of slaughter with blood and dead animals abounding. Into this place is borne the spotless Lamb of God – the Lord enters His temple. But He cannot pass through the veil to the Holy of Holies where God dwells and so God is at once in Heaven and dwells with man. Thus, the reality and significance of the Incarnation is rejected and so Christ is rejected for the first of many times except by Simeon and Anna. Furthermore, in Simeon’s words of gratitude to God in the Nunc Dimitus he proclaims that the child will not only give glory to Israel but be a light for every nation.

So that’s all very nice if a little bit sad for those who don’t get the plot. But there is still more. The priests go behind the veil and sprinkle the animals’ blood on the mercy seat of God in atonement for sins. On the cross, the spotless lamb will shed his blood for the future of all humanity and sprinkle it once and for all on the mercy seat of God in heaven. And in that moment when he does that the veil is torn in two and His body becomes the way to pass from the earthly to the heavenly. His pierced side replaces that barrier which once kept God made man from accessing the Holy of Holies.

Simeon prophesies this by telling Our Lady that a sword will pierce her heart. Therein lies the challenge to us. As we contemplate Mary cradling her new born son in her arms consider the next time she will do that – when they take the broken lifeless body of her beloved Son down from the cross. Picture our crib scene or your own one at home and that adoring mother. Then go and look upon the pieta halfway down the church. What a contrast and what a price for our salvation.
Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:34 am