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Saturday, 1 February 2014

Reflection/Homily: Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2 2014)

Reflection/Homily: Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2 2014)
Theme: Christ is the Light of the Nations

Today’s feast of the presentation of the Lord also commemorates the purification of our Lady. The Jewish law requires every firstborn son to be dedicated to the temple in honour of the protection God granted the firstborn sons of the Israelites when the angel of death visited the land of Egypt. This firstborn son is to be redeemed with some sacrifices according to the same law. The law also required mothers to perform a ritual of purification forty days after childbirth because of the bleeding associated with childbirth (cf. Leviticus 12). Today, forty days after Christmas, the Church commemorates these two events in this feast which is also referred to as Candlemas. In the first reading (Mal. 3:1-4), the prophet prophesied that God would send a messenger to clear the way for the Lord who would suddenly enter the sanctuary. The Gospel reading (Luke 2:22-40) confirms the fulfillment of this prophecy in the presentation of Jesus in the temple by Mary and Joseph in the presence of Simeon and Anna. Today, Jesus also enters the sanctuary as the light of the nations symbolized in our candlelights. 

There are a number of lessons we can learn from today’s feast. The first is that Mary after her virginal birth had no need for ritual presentation and Jesus being God had no need to be dedicated to God in the temple. Yet Mary and Joesph aware of this, went ahead to fulfill the requirements of the Law and to introduce Jesus into the Jewish religion. This teaches us the need to fulfill the requirements of the law in our individual circumstances as Christians. Are there religious laws and obligations you are yet to fulfill? This is a time to make up your mind to fulfill those obligations which may include contracting a marriage the Catholic way, fulfilling your financial obligations in the Church, receiving the necessary sacraments, reconciling with the Church, etc. More still, the collaboration between Mary and Joseph should teach parents the need to collaborate in practicing their faith and in raising their children the Christian way. As Mary and Joseph brought Christ to the temple, parents should always bring their children to God through the examples of their actions. How well do parents present their children to the Lord these days?

Today’s feast also invites us to look up to Christ the light of the world presented in the temple. Today, Christ present in the Church continues to shine as the light of the nations through the sacraments and infallible teachings of the Church. When our soul is darkened, this light illumines us the moment we approach him at the confessional. When we receive the Holy Eucharist, we invite this light to shine perpetually in our souls. This light is also present in the infallible teachings of the Church on faith and morals. It allows us to see the path through which we can truly present ourselves to the Father as sons and daughters of God. This light is also present in the dictates of our consciences which we are bound to follow. How well do we recognize Christ as the light shining through these avenues? Do we allow the light of Christ radiating through the Church and the Sacred Scriptures to guides us?

Finally, Simeon and Anna devoted their time to the things of God and that was why they were able to recognize Christ in the way he was manifested to them. In every age, God also reveals His will to those who devote their time to Him. Simeon and Anna understood the will of God revealed to them in Christ and they sang praises to God. When we see the will of God being manifested through others do we gladly identify with them? Some people today would wonder why the saviour should come through the poor Mary and Joseph and not them. They would be jealous and try to behave in a queer manner. Some do not identify with the good that happens to others. So the feast invites us to devote our time to the things of God and to identify ourselves with goodness since Christ came to identify with our human nature as the second reading (Heb. 2:14-18) reminds us. Therefore, may Christ the light of the nations continue to illumine your ways and make you always conscious of your dedication to God at baptism. Happy Sunday. God loves you.

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