When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. (Lk 2:22-24)
The birth of Jesus Christ, which we celebrated a month and a half ago, was a pinnacle moment in our salvation history. When that moment came to pass, our almighty, eternal, all-knowing God took on flesh in the great mystery of the incarnation and became a man.
I could stop this column right here, I guess, and leave the rest blank and just ask you to reflect upon that awesome mystery in and of itself. It would take years and years of our lives and we still would not be close to comprehending the fullness of that event.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. As we heard in the Gospel, “When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.”
As soon as God took on flesh, he emptied Himself of any vestige of power and took on our way of life. One of those ways was for the firstborn to be consecrated and dedicated to the Lord. Parents would bring their children to the temple in order to present them to God.
As Mary and Joseph came to the temple, though, they would find that very routine ritual would be far from ordinary. A holy man, Simeon, and a prophetess, Anna, would come to them at different times and proclaim to them the greatness of their child.
Simeon told the parents that he had been promised by God that he would not die until he had a chance to see the promise of salvation fulfilled. When he looked upon Jesus, Simeon knew that his salvation was at hand in the form of the little child before him and Simeon gave God thankful praise.
Anna also gave thanks to God and spoke to everyone present about the child, knowing that redemption itself was in their very midst.
God can take every ordinary occasion and make it extraordinary. He did that at Jesus’ presentation in the temple. He also did that when we were presented to the Lord at our own baptisms. He took something very ordinary, our very life, and made it extraordinary by making us His sons and daughters.
As we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord today, we also recount our own presentations and remind ourselves that, as we were dedicated to the Lord, we were also called to live as examples of God’s holy love in our world today.
May God give us the grace that we need to live to the expectation of our call to holiness.
FAITH ACTION: Dedicate yourself to the Lord today by praying the Suscipe prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.