Our vacancy for God
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord celebrates the formal dedication or consecration of the Child Jesus to the work of God. It reminds us of our own dedication or consecration of our lives to God. This acknowledgment of God’s jurisdiction over our lives mandates us to make symbolic offerings of our lives, like tithing or an actual response to God’s call not only to the priestly or religious life but also to the call of lay ministry, including family life.
Today is also the World Day for Consecrated Life. Consecrated persons, including priests and religious, dedicate their lives to God and spend periodic silence with God. In a letter on consecrated life, Pope Benedict XVI states that consecrated persons continue the work of evangelization, even on the front lines of the faith, with generosity and often with the sacrifice of their lives, even to the point of martyrdom.
Our celebration today highlights the importance of silence, prayer and contemplation in our Christian life. Our Sunday worship reminds us of our need to be silent and listen to God. The Holy Mass should literally silence us and make us more aware of His presence in our lives. During Mass, there are moments of silence to be observed: during the penitential rite, the opening prayer, after the first and second readings, after homily and after communion. We also spend some silence before and after the celebration.
St Thomas Aquinas refers to this kind of silence when he defines the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as vacare Deo, which is translated in English as “vacancy for God”. To provide a vacancy for God is to let our soul give room for God to influence our lifestyle, our schedules, our attitudes, our decisions and our life. The vacancy we create for God provides us with the opportunity to lift our soul to His presence.
Our silence with God can give us a sense of direction and courage. Let us pray to God to help us commit ourselves to spend more and more periodic silence or create a regular vacancy for Him in our respective lives: “Heavenly Father, create in us an emptiness for You in our rather busy and crowded life. Create a silence for You in our noisy schedules. Create a vacancy for You in our life that is so full of ourselves. We ask this through Christ who prayed to You for our unity with You and with one another. Amen.”