-to be celebrated on 2-2-2020-
The Presentation of the Lord
(N. B. We apologise that we have only one resource for todays readings. This is because this feastday only very rarely occurs on a Sunday and some of our writers didn’t include commentaries for it. ) Fr John Littleton has however submitted his and it to be found below.
Gospel Text: Luke 2:22-40
When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord — observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord:
Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord — and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:
Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’
As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected — and a sword will pierce your own soul too — so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’
There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.
Journeying through the year of Matthew
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which occurs forty days after our celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. The feast is also known as Candlemas Day because the blessing and procession of candles is included in the Mass. Jesus Christ is the light of the nations, ‘the light to enlighten the pagans’ (Lk 2:32). That is why we have the blessing and procession of candles on this day.
The Presentation of the Lord brings to an end the celebration of the Nativity — although Christmas officially ends with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In obedience to the Law, as was customary with first-born male children, Jesus was presented in the Temple in Jerusalem by his mother, Mary, and his foster father, Joseph.
Through the prophecies of Simeon and Anna, Jesus was revealed and acknowledged as the Messiah. A similar acknowledgement had occurred when the wise men knelt in adoration during their visit to the newborn infant Jesus (see Mt 2).
But Simeon’s prophecy to Mary about Jesus was distressing: ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected’ (Lk 2:34). The prophecy leads our thoughts away from the Incarnation, with an emphasis on God becoming human in Jesus Christ, towards the Paschal Mystery, which emphasises the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.
Over the preceding centuries, many prophets had longed to see the Messiah. But they had died without realising their greatest desire. Simeon and Anna were truly blessed to meet the Saviour of the world, even if the meeting was tinged with sadness because of their predictions about the future events in his life. We too are blessed because we are privileged to know that we have been saved from the consequences of our sins.
Simeon and Anna used their time well because they spent most of it in the Temple praising God. There is an important lesson here for us. It is relatively easy to spend time in God’s presence — simply because God is always with us. We are not required to be in the Temple or in a church or in another designated sacred space. We can be in God’s presence wherever and whenever we choose and, enlivened and encouraged by God’s presence, we can be witnesses to Jesus Christ who is the light of the world.
The tradition of lighting candles in our homes as a sign that Christ is the light of the world is one practical custom that we could easily initiate to focus our attention on him being at the centre of this wonderful feast and at the centre of our lives.
Finally, on today’s feast, all families can learn the value of giving thanks to God for the gift of children and can seek his blessing on their lives and work. Enlightened by the brightness of Christ, let us re-dedicate ourselves to God, confident that he never abandons us.
My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel. (Lk 2:30-32)