HOMILY FOR THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD.
AV prayer + text.
This feast was first observed in the Eastern Church as “The Encounter”. It would later be observed in the West during the 6th century, wherein in Rome, it acquires a more penitential character, whereas in Gaul (France) with solemn blessings and processions of candles, popularly known as “Candlemas“.
The presentation of the Lord concludes the celebration of the Nativity and, with the offerings of the Virgin Mother and the prophecy of Simeon, the events now point towards Easter.
Today’s Gospel recounts to us that “When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus 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 (Lk 2:22-24).”
- According to the Jewish law, the first-born male had to be presented to the Lord forty days after his birth. The ancient law had two precepts regarding the birth of first-born sons. According to Leviticus, a woman who bore a child was unclean. The period of legal impurity ended, in the case of a mother of a male child, after forty days, with a rite of purification. With regard to first-born sons, it is written in the Book of Exodus: The Lord said to Moses, ‘Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast; is mine’ (cf Ex 13:2,12-13; Lev 12:2-8).
- This offering was a living reminder of God had delivered the people of Israel from their captivity in Egypt. Every first-born male, then, belonged to God and had to be set apart for the Lord, that is, dedicated to the service of God. However, once divine worship was reserved to the tribe of Levi, first-born who did not belong to that tribe were not dedicated to God’s service, and to show that they continued to be God’s special property, a rite of redemption was performed. The Law laid down that the Israelites should offer in sacrifice some lesser victim as a symbolic form of ransom.
- And this is what Our Lady and St. Joseph did. They observed the Mosaic Law even if they know that Jesus is Himself the Son of God, the Messiah, the One who is to save all people of their sins. With the Holy Spirit acting in their souls, Simeon and Anna are the only people who recognize the Messiah in this ordinary infant.
- Our Lady, with all her humility, prepared her soul to present the Son of God to the Father and to offer herself to Him. By doing so, she renewed her FIAT, her “be it done unto me according to Thy Word.” WE, TOO, CAN LEARN FROM HER HUMILITY, AND THAT OF ST. JOSEPH AS WELL, BY OFFERING OUR LIFE AT GOD’S DISPOSITION, convinced that all we are and all we have, we have received as gifts from Our Lord.
- Simeon’s and Anna’s examples of awaiting for the Messiah are for us as well a lesson to follow. They aspired for what is most important in this life: to see and live for the Messiah. WE, TOO, SHOULD ASPIRE TO SEEK, FIND, DEAL AND LOVE JESUS AND LIVE FOR HIM IN THIS LIFE IN ABOVE ANYTHING ELSE.
- At the same time, today’s feast is an open invitation for us to:
- RENEW OUR COMMITMENT TO THE LORD. COMMITTED CATHOLICS, 24/7! NOT JUST AN HOUR A DAY, BUT 24/7, ever vigilant to do that which God asks from each one of us throughout the entire day;
- LIGHTING UP as lit-candles the environment where we move about by our struggle to be better Christians;
- and OFFERING HIM our thoughts, our works, our joys, our sorrows, our tiredness, our rest: everything we are and we do, for Love, for His Honor and Glory, and for the good of many souls.
Today we could make our own Saint Alphonsus Liguori’s beautiful prayer:
“Today, Oh my queen, I also, in imitation of thee wish to offer my poor heart to God… Offer me as thine to the eternal Father and to Jesus, and pray him that through the merits of his Son, and by thy favour, he may accept me, and take me for his own
(St Alphonsus Liguori, Glories of Mary, II, 6).”
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