31 Jan THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD
Dear OLPH family and Friends,
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple as an infant. This story is related only Luke’s Gospel and has been celebrated in the Church since the 4th (Church of the East) and 5th (Church of the West) Centuries. It is rooted in the Jewish practices of purification of a mother after childbirth and the offering of the firstborn son. The tradition is described in Leviticus 12, which prescribes rules of purification and presentation. In ancient Judaism, after childbirth women were required to be purified before interacting with people and sacred objects. Giving birth to Jesus made Mary ceremonially unclean for 40 days (Lv 12:2-4).
At the end of the purification period, Mary and Joseph offered a sacrifice of two pigeons, which was expected from people who could not afford to offer a sheep (Lv 12:8). The parents also present Jesus at the temple, as was customary for all firstborn male children (Ex 13:2).The first and second readings complement this event when Malachi prophesies about a messenger of the covenant at the temple. Hebrews recognizes Jesus’ participation in Jewish rituals.
When Mary and Joseph present Jesus, they encounter Simeon and Anna who both recognize Jesus as someone special. Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit, had received a divine message that he would see the Messiah before his death. Recognizing the Messiah, Simeon takes Jesus into his arms and affirms that he can die having seen the Christ. Simeon asserts that Jesus is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel’ (Lk 2:32). Jesus is the Messiah for both Gentiles and Jews. Mary and Joseph are surprised that this stranger recognizes who Jesus is. Simeon blesses the parents and offers a message specifically to Mary that despite His importance, Jesus would be rejected by many.
Anna, a pious lady who spent most of her adult life in the Temple, offers praise and thanksgiving to God and speaks about Jesus to all who were looking for redemption (Lk 2:38)
Although the Holy Family is central to this feast of the Presentation, Simeon and Anna play vital roles. Simeon publically confirms Jesus’ identity and future ministry. Anna share Jesus with the world, proclaiming Him to the Gentiles and Jews mentioned in Simeon’s prophecy. These two qualities apply to us. We are each called to declare who Jesus is to us, Our Savior and Redeemer. We are called to make Him known to the entire world. May God grant us the will to fulfill our baptismal pledge to be a priestly and prophetic people!
May God bless, preserve and keep you!