PRESENTATION OF THE LORD (FEAST)
1st Reading: Mal 3: 1-4
Thus, says the Lord God: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire, or like the fuller’s lye. He will sit refining and purifying silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD. Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem will please the LORD, as in the days of old, as in years gone by.
2nd Reading: Heb 2: 14-18
Since the children share in blood and flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life. Surely, he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham; therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
Gospel: Lk 2: 22-40
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted Band you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
SACRED HUMAN LIFE: Human life is holy because it is the creation of God, but it has taken on a deeper sacredness because Jesus Christ lived our human life. When Joseph and Mary presented Jesus to the temple both Simeon and Anna received a revelation from God concerning Jesus and they witnessed to His identity as Messiah in order to give a new sanctity to human existence. The Vatican Council II, in its Constitution on the ‘Church in the Modern World’ teaches that “God, the Lord of life, has conferred on the human race the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life, and so from the moment of conception life must be guarded with the greatest care” (51). Therefore, we need laws to safeguard human life before birth beginning at conception for the same reason that we have laws to safeguard human life after birth. Pope Francis challenges us, “Defend the unborn against abortion …No child should be deprived of the right to be born, the right to be fed, the right to go to school.” What concrete actions am I doing to witness our Lord Jesus today?
PRAYER: Lord, bless the young parents in our community!
THE CHILD GREW: It is already 40 days since Christmas. The parents of Jesus fulfil their religious duty, taking their first born to the temple to offer him to Yahweh. However, this was a vicarious sacrifice: in the place of the boy they offer a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. It turns out to be a dramatic event for the parents with Simeon and Anna coming out to prophesy about the boy. This event in the series of the visit by the shepherds and the magi leaves the parents of Jesus baffled. Because of their cooperation with God, resilience as parents, and their religiosity, the boy grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. This is our prayer for today’s parents too.
BAPTISMAL CONSECRATION: The feast of the Lord’s presentation reminds us of our Consecration to God. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to fulfil their obligation of consecrating him to God with their offering. Through offering of Jesus, they conveyed to the world that Jesus belonged to God. The fundamental dimension of our Christian lives is in the baptismal consecration where we are anointed and filled with the oil of God´s love. We are called to live belonging to God and not to the world into which we were born. Jesus consoles us with his prayer to his Father, “I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the Evil One” (Jn 17:15). As a Christian, am I worldly or Godly? Today, religious men and women choose to live their special consecration in a radical manner. Realizing the meaning of belonging to God, they are called by God to live it decisively for God alone. If so, they are expected to live the words of St. Teresa of Jesus, “God only enough.” This radical living demands that they find God as their refuge and “birth right” (Ps 16:5). In the light of these words, am I able to believe that in dedicating myself toward the kingdom, God will bring me unexpected rewards for my faithfulness?