Tuesday, February 2, 2010
The Presentation of the Lord
Today we celebrate an ancient and lovely feast: The Presentation of the Lord. On this feast we celebrate and commemorate Joseph and Mary presenting the baby Jesus in Temple, which event is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The fruit of this mystery is obedience. In St. Luke's account we are taught that obedience itself has a fruit: living in the truth and seeing the truth: Jesus himself. It is Anna and Simeon who teach us this.
Simeon "was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord" (Luke 2:25b-26). When Simeon saw Mary and Joseph bring Jesus into the Temple, Simeon, like John the Baptist, who leapt in his mother's womb at the approach of the pregnant Virgin Mary, recognized the "Messiah of the Lord". Simeon took the child in his arms and said: "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32). We call this prayer the Nunc dimittis and recite it as part of the night office, as we do the Magnificat for evening prayer and the Benedictus for morning prayer. Today is also known as Candlemas. In many locales we bless candles for use in our homes over the coming year. Whenever we light these candles we recognize that Jesus Christ is the light of the world!
Jesus Christ is Israel's consolation and our consolation. He is our hope, the One who gives us certainty about our future; "that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel may by His passion and cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection..." Like Mary we must come to see that Jesus Christ is "a sign that will be contradicted," is what St. Paul calls a scandalon, about which Michael Card sings: a stone that makes men stumble and a rock that makes them fall, the one who breaks many in order to make them whole.
On a lighter note: Happy Groundhog Day! Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter!