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The Presentation of the Lord: A Faith that Engenders Fidelity and Hope
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: Holy Spirit, enkindle in my heart the desire to encounter Jesus and respond to his invitation of fidelity through my life in the Church.
- A Total Fidelity of Heart: Mary, who received the gift of bearing God’s Son, is pure and blameless in the sight of God, yet she seeks no exoneration from the Jewish law. Full of heartfelt piety and gratitude, she brought her son forward with a poor man’s offering of two turtledoves. She was magnanimous, desiring to fulfill the Law of Moses and with reverence she approached the Temple, Son in arms. After offering the turtledoves, the law prescribed a payment of five shekels to a priest for the redemption of the firstborn, or “return of the child” to the parents. Luke, appropriately, omits this detail. Jesus, the Redeemer, will be handed over, given to God the Father completely. This foreshadows Jesus as the sacrificial offering and the priest upon the Cross by which his redemptive act will be consummated.
- Incorporation into the Mystery: Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart. How mysterious. The peaceful sight of the babe in Mary’s arms did not hint of any opposition, yet it will come. How Mary would have liked to protect him from all harm, but her mission would be compassion (to suffer with), not shelter or protect. Likewise (although God shelters and protects us), God does not always shield us from suffering that life circumstances and the path of purification entail. He first of all suffered for us. He also suffers with us. Furthermore, he invites us to enter into the mystery of redemptive suffering within his Mystical Body, the Church. What a mysterious, awesome and difficult privilege. I make my prayer one of gratitude to you, Lord, for incorporating me into the mystery of your redemptive work. I make a sincere offering of my day for the salvation of souls and your glory.
- The Hope That Is Fulfilled: Simeon and Anna await the coming of the Messiah with eager anticipation. How much they teach us about the role of desire and hope as Christians! Their hope is based on the profound conviction of God’s fidelity to his promise. And they see that promise unfold before their eyes. God cannot resist the faith-filled desires of hearts that corresponds to his loving and saving plan. They are rewarded with the vision of their longings. “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). I want to share with you, Lord, the desires of my heart. May they match the desires of your heart.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I thank you for the gift of your Mother who teaches me total fidelity. I thank you for the gift of yourself even to death on a cross. I thank you for the gift of your Church that continues to pour out your sacrificial and self-giving love. Help me to be a faithful son/daughter of the Church, living in the expectation of your promise to be fulfilled. Help me to unite myself to your redemptive mission through my fidelity to the evangelizing mission of the Church, and to desire that which you desire.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will offer any challenge or suffering in union with Christ’s Mystical Body, for those who need a special grace of faith and hope in God.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 1, Section 1, Chapter 3: Man’s Response to God (on Faith).
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala