Monday, February 1, 2016

Punxsutawney Phil, Presentation Day, Plus More

Secular and sacred calendars collide every year on February 2nd, a day devoted both to a certain groundhog and to the Presentation of our Lord at the Temple.

As followers of Jesus in the 21st century, we are called to be in the world, but not of it. We are challenged to see God in all things--and all things in light of God. We are invited to embrace personal conversion, but also to contribute to cultural transformation.

So what's the deal with Phil and the Presentation?! The question of 2/2 is whether this day is merely a coincidence of scheduling or a providential reminder that there is always something more going on than meets the eye. Here are a couple considerations for your musings:

Check out the humor and humility of God:  Why would the Lord of the entire cosmos create such a curious looking creature, if not to make us smile? Why would God establish a Law to which his own Son needed to submit and thereby transform, if not to reveal his own desire to serve his creation?
  • While Phil foreshadows a prediction about the question of when spring will arrive, the child Jesus fulfills a promise about the ultimate issue of how God will deliver us from slavery and death.
Check out the wit and wisdom of God: Why would the Lord of all creation give us changing seasons that make us yearn for the Spring, if not to artfully point toward our deeper desires? Christians always stand ready for a new springtime. But we know that the Source of Spring has already arrived, is still actively engaged in bringing forth new life, and will soon return in search of a bountiful harvest. This makes us a sacramental people.
  • While a specific woodland creature purports to offer a general message for the nation, a particular people welcomes a universal savior who will be their glory, a light for all the nations. 
Check out God's Eucharistic people. Enlightened with a sacramental worldview, the People of God move forward nourished by the gift of the Eucharistic Lord.  The Child once presented in the temple now presents himself as the eternal Temple where all people can worship.
  • Punxsutawney Phil might provide a moment of entertainment in a land dominated by shadows and false gods of the day (including not only the weather, but also sports, success, and self), but Jesus delivers a new Kingdom fueled by the gift of his own Body and Blood, to the glory of his Father.
There is no mere "groundhog day" here, no "same old, same old" repeated over again. Rather, the Lord seems to be crying out, "Behold, I make all things new":

51st Eucharistic Congress in the Philippines