The Presentation in the Temple

Luke 2: 22-35
1 Jn 2:3-11 / Psa 96

My eyes have seen Your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples.
(Luke 2:31)

No longer do we walk in the dark,
Christ is our light and inspiration;
No fear or worry as we embark,
Now that we know our destination.

When the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted, (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2: 22-35)

Reflection

Malachi’s prophecy had finally dawned that day when Simeon entered the temple. “…suddenly the Lord for whom you long (for) will enter the sanctuary. The envoy of the covenant which you so greatly desire already comes, says Yahweh of hosts.” (Mal.3:1) Simeon said to Mary, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (2:34-35).

Christ’s coming had indeed contradicted the established mores and thinking of that time in Israel. Even now, thousands of years later, Jesus’ teachings continue to be contradicted by the ‘pragmatic’ lifestyle of many. Because even if the Light has already come, many still prefer to live in the darkness of sin — that is why the sword continues to pierce the heart of Mary as she weeps for man’s insensitivity or ignorance of all that her Son had done for us in the name of God’s love. However, everyone who met Jesus fell — either into repentance or down to reality. He caused many to both fall, and then rise again. Simon Peter was the first when he witnessed the miraculous catch of fish and fell at Jesus’ feet, saying “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). Matthew came next when he left his post at the imperial revenue office. St. Paul had the biggest fall of all (from his horse) when he encountered the Spirit of Jesus on the way to Damascus. But as Simeon predicted, all of them rose again to become the best followers of Jesus in spreading His kingdom here on earth. To fall down in humble penitence is an important process of our transformation, because, after all, we can never get to heaven on our own merits. Until we fall from the pride and prestige of this world, from the need to be self-assured and self-sufficient, from the folly of financial achievements and human glory, we will never learn to rise to the call of the cross, to be humble, to be servile, to wake up to the realization that we are nothing, and everything belongs to God alone. Let us always keep in mind the words of the Apostle Paul: “What do you have, that you weren’t given?” We who have acknowledged Jesus as King should live lives that reflect His character, especially His humility.

We have the Blessed Mother Mary as our ideal. She was given the privilege of being the mother of the Son of God. But with this high privilege also came a “sword which would pierce her heart” as her Son would die on the cross. She received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. But her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because she had faith and trust in God’s promise. The Lord gives this strange kind of joy which helps His favored ones bear any sorrow or pain.

Lord, thank You for Your supernatural love, which none of us on earth can ever hope to fathom; it fills us with gladness, and great expectation of things to come. Amen.

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