From the Pastor's Desk
FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD
This feast commemorates how Jesus, as a baby, was presented to God in the Temple in Jerusalem. This presentation finds its complete and perfect fulfillment in the mystery of the passion, death and Resurrection of the Lord. The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is a combined feast, commemorating the Jewish practice of the purification of the mother after childbirth and the presentation of the child to God in the Temple and his buying back (redemption) from God. It is also known as the Feast of the Purification of Mary, and the Feast of Candlemas. It is also called the Feast of Encounter (Hypapánte in Greek) because the New Testament, represented by the baby Jesus, encountered the Old Testament, represented by Simeon and Anna. Joseph offered two pigeons in the Temple as sacrifice for the purification of Mary after her childbirth and for the presentation and redemption ceremonies performed for baby Jesus.
In the first reading, taken from Malachi, the prophet speaks of the Lord suddenly coming to Jerusalem to purify the lax, lazy and indifferent priests of His Temple as silver is purified by fire. Simeon saw the Infant Jesus as the fulfillment of this passage. He saw Jesus as the Lord Who has come to the Temple, "destined to be the downfall and rise of many in Israel."
In the second reading, St. Paul proclaims Jesus as our Eternal High Priest of the New Covenant (Heb 2:17), Who offered himself on the altar of Calvary, the only pure priestly sacrifice that could please God. He replaces the former priesthood.
The Gospel describes how Joseph, as the head of the Holy Family of Nazareth, presented Mary and the baby Jesus in the Temple of God for the mother’s purification and the Child’s “redemption.” It also describes the Holy Family’s encounter with the old prophet Simeon and the holy old widow Anna. In his prophecy, Simeon extols the divine blessings which the Messiah is bringing to Israel and to all men and predicts that Mary will play a crucial and sacrificial role in her Son’s redemptive work by sharing in her Son’s sufferings.
- Every Holy Mass in which we participate is our presentation. Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our Baptism, we present ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence, we need to live our daily lives with the awareness both that we are dedicated people, consecrated to God, and that we are obliged to lead holy lives.
- We need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to recognize the presence of Jesus in ourselves and others: All those who, like Simeon and Anna, persevere in piety and in the service of God, no matter how insignificant their lives seem in men’s eyes, become instruments whom the Holy Spirit uses to make Christ known to others. In His plan of redemption, God uses these simple souls to do much good for all mankind. In other words, the Holy Spirit employs ordinary men and women with simple faith as His instruments to bear witness to Christ, his ideals and teachings just as he used Simeon and Anna. The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Lord to us when we are receptive and eager to receive Him. Hence, let us be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us to recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord with us and in others.