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Above and Beyond the Prescriptions of the Law
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him 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 Messiah 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 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—and 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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I present myself to you now as your devoted child. I love you, Lord, and humbly ask for whatever graces you have set aside for me today. I ask you to strengthen my desire to be exceptional in serving you more justly.
- Simeon—Righteous and Devout: Well before this moment in the Gospel, Simeon had persevered through a long journey. Like anything worth fighting for, this moment of encounter required effort on Simeon’s part. We are told in Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” Righteousness comes by way of humility and sacrifice, and by placing God first in our life. How willing are we to sacrifice comfort sometimes to make more room for the Holy Spirit in our life?
- Offering God More Than He Asks of Us: In a homily from 2013, Pope Benedict XVI explained that it was not mandatory for parents to bring their firstborn to the temple, or make an offering. Mary and Joseph honored God by taking Jesus to the Temple, as well as making the sacrifice of “two young pigeons” (the offering of those with humble means). The Holy Spirit obviously knew that Joseph and Mary were the kind of parents to go the extra mile to honor God, leading to the fulfillment of the prophecy. When we offer God more than he asks from us, he blesses us superabundantly, and we fulfill his intention for us—we become holy.
- A Sign That Contradicted: On this feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the church celebrates those who are living the vocation of consecrated life. In a culture that embraces norms of sexual promiscuity and material luxury, someone living a life of joy without these things is surely a sign of contradiction. Living a joy-filled life–set apart in service to God and others–speaks loudly to many restless hearts trying to fill the emptiness of a life without Christ. May the Lord bless consecrated souls and help us all to live a joyful life that honors Christ.
Conversing with Christ: Lord you know how comfortable I can be in this world, doing the minimum that is required of me at times. Help me to give a little more of myself so that I live in joy with you and can be an example to others.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will add at least fifteen extra minutes of praise and thanksgiving to my normal prayer routine. I will also pray for strength and protection for those who have given their lives to God by consecrating themselves to his service.
For Further Reflection: Reflect and pray with the words from Luke 13:22-30.
Megan Naumovski is a speaker, writer, and teacher of the Catholic faith at boscoworld.blog.