February 2020

Don’t hide it under a bushel

Does anyone really love February? It may be the shortest month, but it seems to be one with little to celebrate. The name comes from a Latin word meaning purification, and I suppose that ties up slightly with a day at the beginning of the month. For February 2nd is a great feast day, which, under the old dispensation, was known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It mark the time when Jesus was presented in the temple, and is now known as the Feast of the Presentation or more usually as Candlemas. It is the last day of the whole Christmas cycle which began way back last year with Advent Sunday. It reminds us - provided we can insulate ourselves from the prevailing current of ‘O thank goodness Christmas is over and we can get back to normal - that, after we have celebrated that, in Jesus, God became a living human beings, things cannot really get back to normal: that Christ’s light has been passed on to us, and it is up to us to keep it shining. That is the role of all those who would call themselves Christians: it is not to be holy on Sunday, but to be refreshed on Sunday to go out and do Christ’s work for the rest of the week.

If that sounds daunting, then just remember that Christ’s original followers were normal people living normal lives, but who, through Christ’s light shining through them, laid the foundations stones for the church today.

February this year ends with Ash Wednesday, when we begin the season of Lent in which we look at ways i which we can better answer the call that God makes on each and every one of us.

Those two celebrations - Candlemas and Ash Wednesday - are not unrelated. If we are to let Christ’s light shine and if we are to recognise the particular vocation that he has for us, it might be helpful to give ourselves time to get to know him better and be more ready to listen to him. I always think that an excellent way to do this os the read a Gospel - all of it. It can be really surprising if we are only used to hearing the stories as isolated episodes, how very different it is when we tie the whole story together. And isn’t it good when we are faced with a month like February that it gives us something really positive to do at this time? 

Our Christian faith if it is to mean anything has to be lively, life-giving and nourishing. And if our faith is to be nourishing, we need nourishment ourselves. Reading a gospel is perfect nourishment. Give it a go!