Reflection on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Mal.3:1-4; Heb. 2:14-18; Lk. 2:22-40
Concerning the first-born son, in Ex. 13:2 it is written: v.2 “Consecrate to me every first-born that opens the womb among the Israelites, both of man and beast, for it belongs to me….v. 12 “You shall dedicate to the Lord every son that opens the womb, and all the male firstlings of your animals shall belong to the Lord.” Concerning the mother at childbirth, in Lev. 12 it is written: v.2 “When a woman has conceived and gives birth to a boy, she shall be unclean for seven days, … v.3 “On the eighth day, the flesh of the boy’s foreskin shall be circumcised, v.4 and then she shall spend thirty-three days more in becoming purified of her blood … v.6 When the days of her purification for a son …are fulfilled, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the meeting tent… v.8 two turtledoves or two pigeons, the one for a holocaust and the other for a sin offering. The priest shall make atonement for her, and thus she shall again be clean.” Jesus as the Only Begotten Son of the Father does not need to be presented to God. Mary as the Immaculate Conception does not need to be purified. And yet both complied with the Torah and submitted themselves to the Law as given through Moses. When John the Baptist objected to Jesus who came to him for baptism, Jesus told him, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” In Gethsemane, Jesus submitted to the Father: “Not my will but thine be done.” At the annunciation Mary for her part accepted God’s plan and said, “Be it done to me according to your word.” By their obedience and submission Jesus and Mary became the instruments of salvation for all of us. It is clear then that if any of us wants to be instrument of God to bring salvation of others, we must also learn to obey and submit to the will of the Father.
Next to consider are the words of Simeon: “my eyes have seen your salvation which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” We had seen how a Star guided the Magi to Jesus, now Simeon specifies that this Child is “salvation” and “a light of revelation to the Gentiles.” And as the Star indicated the New Born King of the Jews, so now this Child in the arms of Simeon is to bring “glory to your people Israel” because the Savior chose to be born of the stock of Abraham and the lineage of David. Speaking directly to the Mother, Simeon said: “a sword shall pierce your soul.” Jesus is only forty days old, and the Mother is made to know that sorrow will be her lot because this child is a “sign the will be contradicted.” Jesus brings salvation, will teach us the way back to the Father, he will heal illnesses and cure various diseases, he will drive out demons, but his enemies will say that he was acting in the name of Beelzebub. In Bethlehem, the shepherds who were Jews, and the Magi who were Gentiles came to pay homage and bring gifts, now forty days later, Mary and Joseph came to know, right under the shadow of the temple in Jerusalem, that though Jesus would bring salvation for the Gentiles, many in Israel will oppose and contradict him. Joseph would stand by Mary and Jesus to support them, but only the soul of Mary will be pierced by the sword of sorrow. Even now, let us make the resolve that when the time comes we shall stand with Mother Mary at the foot of the Cross to support her. Anna “worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer” in the temple; with her let us give “thanks to God and” speak about Jesus “to all who are awaiting the redemption” of God’s people. Fathers, mothers, after baptism you bring your child in front of the altar; thank God for the gift of life. Ask for good health of body, of mind and of spirit for yourselves and your child. Ask for the grace to transmit the redemption of Jesus to your child with the guidance and strength of Mary and Joseph. Even now ask your Guardian Angels to be always with you to guide and protect you and your child. Amen.