Bryant Family

Who Do You Belong To? Homily for the Presentation of the Lord

by Father Brian J. Soliven on Sunday February 2, 2020

Who do you belong to? At first glance this question can seem strange, even bizarre. As adults, we hear that question, and our knee jerk reaction is to yell, "NO ONE!" We tend to interpret this question through the lens of power. However, if you ask a little five-year-old child, "Who do you belong to?" they will understand that question entirely differently. They will probably answer, "I belong to my mommy" or "I belong to my daddy." Notice the utter brilliance of that response. They answer that question through the most meaningful relationship in their lives -- usually their parents. In other words, a little child will hear that question through the lens of love. 

Now let me ask you that question again, "Who do you belong to?" Answer this question like that little child through love. Your answers will probably resound with, "My wife, my husband, my children." Or even better yet, "I belong to God." How you answer this strange question will ultimately determine how you live your life.

The Pastor's Prayer Journal

Have you ever wondered why you always see candles inside Catholic churches? No matter which country you go too, if you’re in one of our churches, a candle will be there. They are used in processions, altars, side altars, funerals, and baptism. Candles are especially important today, as the Church celebrates an amazing Feast – The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. The candle in your hand represents none other than Jesus Christ himself, the light of the world. In the Gospel today we see Mary and Joseph bring the baby Jesus to the Temple. In this humble act, God himself has returned. He’s brought back the blazing light of his presence into a place darkened by our sins and unfaithfulness.

I could not help but see a connection between the Presentation of the Lord with the recent tragic passing of the basketball legend Kobe Bryant. Few people knew, but Kobe was a devout Catholic. In fact, on the morning of the helicopter crash, Kobe and his daughter Gianna attended the 7am Sunday Mass at Our Lady Queen of the Angels in Newport Beach. Regardless of his hectic schedule, Kobe always made the Holy Mass the center of his life. His fame and riches did not get in the way of Jesus, which can easily happen to many of us. Kobe was not a saint of course. He made many mistakes. At a critical point in his life, when the darkness of his sin seemed to overwhelm him, the light of Christ returned to lead him out:

Beyond basketball, Bryant was a husband and a father who in 2015 attributed his Catholic faith with helping him move past a challenging period in his own life and the life of his family. Bryant was raised in a Catholic family, and spent much of his childhood living in Italy. He married in 2001 in a Southern California parish.

Bryant told GQ Magazine that “The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest.”

“It was actually kind of funny: He looks at me and says, ’Did you do it?’ And I say, ’Of course not.’ Then he asks, ’Do you have a good lawyer?’ And I’m like, ’Uh, yeah, he’s phenomenal.’ So then he just said, ’Let it go. Move on. God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.’ And that was the turning point,” Bryant said. –Catholic News Agency

From that moment, Kobe became a man of faith and family. Sadly, the reason why Kobe used a helicopter was to escape the notorious Los Angelus traffic in order to spend more time with his wife Vanessa and four daughters. Let us pray for Bryant family and the other members seven souls who perished on that sad day.