Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Presentation of the Lord

The Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord comes on February 2 each year. Today, the Church ends her yearly considerations of Jesus' Nativity and younger years. Some people keep their Christmas decorations and nativity sets up to today. Now, however, we have a mind set towards the Redemption, that is, the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord. 

Jewish law required that the first born male child had to be presented in the Temple forty days after his birth. This precept was based upon the fact that the lives of the first born male children of the faithful Hebrew people were spared the angel of death at the time of their exodus from Egypt. All other first born males in the land lost their lives. From this time on, a mother had to consecrate her first son to the service of God. She could redeem him by making a small offering in the Temple. In our Lord's case, two turtle doves were offered for Him.

When the Holy Family arrived at Temple forty days after Jesus' birth, the Holy Spirit revealed to two people, Simeon and Anna, that He was the Messiah. Simeon exclaimed: "... my eyes have seen the salvation which You have set before the nations, as a light to the Gentiles and for the glory of your people Israel." (Luke 2:30 f) Each of these persons shows us how we too can grow closer to God.

First, out of humility we should obey laws, both laws of the Church and of civil society, provided that they are just laws. Jesus, Mary and Joseph certainly would have been exempt from religious laws. But they complied, showing us the greatness of humility in order to keep order and peace and to accomplish God's will. We often have to deny ourselves that temptation to believe that we are above the law -- that we are special and are exempt. Yes, humility leads to greatness, the greatness of being one with Jesus.

Secondly, Simeon and Anna teach us holiness. They would have to have prayed regularly and frequently to be receptive to the Holy Spirit's inspiration. To grow spiritually we need to be docile to the third Person of the Holy Trinity. May we use gratefully the seven gifts we received at Baptism and fortified at Confirmation.

Finally, Mary with Joseph offered up her Son to the Lord. Jesus would offer Himself upon the Cross. Let us offer up our hearts, our minds, our very souls to the One Who loves us so much. Through the Immaculate Heart may we give ourselves to the Sacred Heart. May we have the very real desire that He accept each of us as his own.

Father Stanley

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