02 Feb. Thursday: Presentation of the Lord
Mal 3:1-4. Malachi looks forward to a brighter day, when “messenger of the covenant … will suddenly come to his temple.” In that Messianic era, the offerings of the people will be pleasing to the Lord.
Hebr 2:14-18. What made Jesus our perfect mediator was that, while he was the eternal Son of God, he became like his brothers and sisters in every respect, and deeply shared in the human experience.
Lk 2:22-40. The Presentation, where the eight-day-old Jesus, the firstborn son, was “designated as holy to the Lord” is interpreted by the prophecy of Simeon: He will be a light for revelation to the Gentiles.
Vision of a New Dawn
This Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by Joseph and Mary is what we recall today. According to Simeon, this child was set for the rise and fall of many in Israel. By setting before his people the goals they should aim at, and further by putting these into action in his own life, he would force his listeners to look critically at what kind of lives they were leading. In doing so, some people because of their stubborn pride, would sink deeper into their wickedness, while the humble would take heart and renew their search for virtue. All who put their trust in Jesus rise to a new intimacy with God.
Pope John Paul declared a new significance for this Feast Day on Feb 2nd. The Feast of the Presentation is also to be a day of recognition of the Consecrated Life of all religious, a life which is a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Many people came into the Temple and witnessed the Presentation of Jesus, but only two, Simeon and Anna, had the vision of faith to see in him the future Saviour. It is only when we look at Religious with the eyes of faith that, in this era of growing rejection of God and of His blessed will, we can hopefully see Christ continuing his presence in the world, in their lives of service and prayer.
Mission of the Elderly
Our parishioners provide older people in the parish with a whole range of activities they can choose from. For a good example of an active older person we need look no further than today’s gospel reading. Anna was an eighty-four year old who “served God night and day, with fasting and prayer.” She was also something of a preacher, when she spoke of the child Jesus to all who looked forward to a happy future for Jerusalem. She certainly qualifies as one of the “active oldsters.” We are not told how old Simeon was, but clearly he was elderly too, for he had been waiting a long time to see the Christ, and now felt ready to depart this life. He was a regular Temple visitor, going where the Holy Spirit led him. Here was another active, older person, alert to the deeper meaning of things. He recognized the significance of the child being brought into the temple by the young couple Mary and Joseph.
Today’s feast puts before us a meeting between youth and age. A young couple with a child enter the Temple of God, where they meet two much older people, in a meeting that proved a source of blessing for both generations. Youth was graced by age, and age was graced by youth. Simeon and Anna were graced and blessed by meeting the couple and the child. The young couple were themselves blessed and graced by the older pair. This can be true of our own experience as well.
In our life situations, the younger can be a source of great blessing to the older generation, and vice-versa. They each have something vital to give the other. The promise of youth can be an inspiration to older people. The experience and wisdom of age can serve as a source of strength and stability for the young. We need to bring the generations into contact with each other, because each has something to offer to the other. The generation in the middle, those in their middle years, are often best placed to bring these two generations together.
No matter what generation we belong to, our calling as followers of the Lord is to bless and grace others by our presence. All of the people who met in the Temple in today’s gospel reading were the better for that meeting – Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Anna and even the child Jesus himself.. It might prompt any one of us to ask the question, “Are others the better for having met me?”
First Reading: Book of Malachi 3:1-4
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight-indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.
Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
Second Reading: Hebrews 2:14-18
Since all the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
Gospel: Luke 2:22-40
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed-and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by 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.