Friday, February 2, 2021, The Presentation of the Lord
First Reading Commentary: Malachi 3:1-4
The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple was prophesized by Malachi who said, “Thus says the Lord God: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.”
In this prophecy, we learn that the Son is the Father’s messenger who gives us the Word of God. By giving us the Word, the Son prepares us to be with the Father. The way before the Lord God is the path to heaven and if we follow the Son’s Light, we will travel that path.
The LORD, in the person of the Son, was a human being and born as a Jew was presented to the Temple according, to Jewish law and in fulfillment of this prophecy. Right from the beginning of the life of Christ on earth, we see God showing us by His own example how to follow Him.
God did not simply give us a set of rules to follow and Christ did not come in a blaze of glory to save us. Instead, the Son came on earth as a human being and lived a life filled with humility to show us the way to be with Him in His Kingdom. But Christ the Son does more than show us the way. He is the messenger of the New Covenant which is the promise of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Christ did come. He was presented to the temple and He fulfilled His purpose here on earth giving His life so that our spiritual lives might be saved. But are we ready for His second coming which is what the rest of this prophecy is about? Everything that Christ did here on earth was designed not only to save us but also to prepare us for salvation.
Think of it this way. Mankind is a team—Team Jesus. Each of us is a member. We have, to get ready for the Big Game—the last day. We have, to be focused on the prize of heaven, dedicated and determined to win. We have to work—work hard and practice every day.
Those of us who do not put forth their best efforts will be kicked off, of the team—doomed to damnation. But those of us who do our best in spite, of our imperfections will remain on the team and win the game—become champions in heaven.
A Small Price to Pay
Second Reading Commentary: Hebrews 2:14-18
What did Jesus come to save us from? Today’s reading from Hebrews tells us that He came to save us from death. Once again, we have, to separate ourselves from normal human thinking in order to catch the message and accept it. Physically, we all die. Spiritually is another matter.
Death could not be defeated without resurrection. Our salvation is possible because Jesus became one of us and it is because of His blood on the cross and His Resurrection that we are able, to have eternal life in the Kingdom.
Hebrews reminds us that God loves us so much and is so committed to us that He sent the Son for us. He did not do such a thing for any other living creature. God did it for us so that our sins would not guarantee eternal damnation—second death.
While here on earth, Jesus made Himself a part of everything human. He felt the same emotions, experienced the same pains and was tempted by the devil just as we are. Jesus had to overcome all of that in order, to defeat death by His Resurrection after giving Himself up on the cross.
Giving all praise and glory to God is simply the right thing to do. But considering the debt that Jesus paid for our redemption and salvation, we owe all praise and glory to God and that is a small price to pay for the reward of eternal life.
The Fourth Joyful Mystery and the First Sorrow of Mary
Commentary: Luke 2:22-40
During the time of the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph), under Mosaic Law, a woman who gave birth to a son could not enter the temple for forty days. This was the purification period according, to the Law of Moses. Then it was time to present Jesus to the temple for consecration.
In atonement for sins, the law of the Lord stipulated that a year-old lamb or a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons be offered as sacrifice. According, to Luke’s Gospel, Mary and Joseph offered the turtledoves or the pigeons. We see that long before the institution of baptism, there was a religious ritual of presenting children to the temple for consecration to God which is a forerunner to baptism. Circumcision was a part of that ritual for boys, but Jesus replaced that with the Sacrament of Baptism.
Jesus was presented at the temple to Simeon who was a righteous and devout man. He had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen Christ. The Spirit was with Simeon when Jesus was presented by Mary and Joseph and when Simeon took Jesus into his arms, he blessed God because he knew that this was the Christ that he had been waiting for.
Simeon testified that he could go in peace for he had seen God’s salvation which was a light for the revelation to the Gentiles and glory for the people of Israel. This is the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. It is a prophecy which tells us that God was to not only come for the Jews but for all of mankind. It is a revelation that the Trinity was present in the arms of Simeon. It is also Simeon’s testimony that the Holy Spirit had kept the promise which was made to him. Finally, there is a connection here to baptism because when we are baptized, the Holy Spirit descends upon us with His gifts.
Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph and told Mary that Jesus was destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel and that Jesus would be a sign that would be contradicted. This was a prophecy that not all Jews would follow Christ but that those who did; would be raised into the Kingdom.
Mary was then told that she would be pierced, by a sword so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. This is the First Dolor of Mary. It was a prophecy that she would endure much pain because of her Son’s mission on earth. It was a prophecy that her Son’s pain would be connected to her and that she would share the pain of her Son’s Passion.
The worst kind of pain for any parent is to watch their child die. But Mary suffered and endured a much greater pain than can be imagined by watching Jesus suffer on the cross because she knew that her Son had taken on the sins of the entire world. Indeed, Mary’s heart breaks every time we reject her Son with our sin.
The prophetess Anna, who never left the temple, also spoke about Jesus to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke does not elaborate on what Anna had to say which might suggest that she confirmed Simeon’s prophecy. But because she spoke to those who awaited Jerusalem’s redemption, Anna may have confirmed that Jesus was Savior.
Then the Holy Family left the temple and returned to Nazareth where Jesus grew up and Luke tells us that He was filled with wisdom and that the favor of God was upon Him.
In this Gospel, Luke proclaims that the baby presented to Simeon in the temple was the Trinity, three distinct persons but all one God. The wisdom of the Spirit and the favor of the Father together with the Son: one God.