Presentation of the Lord
Psalm 24:7, 8, 9, 10 (8)
February 2, 2020
Our psalm today speaks of the “king of glory.” Of course, the “king of glory” is the Lord. The historical setting for this psalm is the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple in Jerusalem. Hence the words, “that the king of glory may come in.”
Whenever the Ark of the Covenant was moved, there was much ceremony for the Ark was the presence of God among the people. All the more was there fanfare when the Ark was brought to the Temple. One might say it involved a “presentation”.
Today we celebrate another presentation, The Presentation of the Lord. This is when baby Jesus was brought by Mary and Joseph “according to the Law of Moses.” They came for Mary’s purification and to present Jesus to the Lord.
Why today? The Law of Moses called for these rituals forty days after the birth of a child. Today is forty days from Christmas when Jesus was born.
Thus, this feast is always on February 2nd. Most of the time it falls during the week and is celebrated without much fanfare. Since it falls on Sunday this year, we began Mass with the blessing of candles followed by the procession.
This presentation of Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Malachi, “And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek.” Many were seeking the Lord. Many were waiting for the Messiah.
Yet, how is anyone to know that baby Jesus is “the one”?
Jesus would not have been the only child to be presented in the Lord. Every Jewish family would have come for the same rites. How is a person to know that Jesus is “the one”?
Through the words of Simeon and Anna.
Simeon was “righteous and devout.” He awaited “the consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” When Jesus is brought to be presented, Simeon is led by the Spirit to greet them.
He, through the Holy Spirit, immediately recognizes Jesus as the one who is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.” He told those present that Jesus is the one. He was “righteous and devout” so the people listened to him.
Likewise, Anna was known to be a holy person, never leaving the temple, “but worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer.” She had the respect of the people who came to the temple. Seeing Jesus, “she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Thus, through the words of Simeon and Anna people knew Jesus was the one. He is the light that leads us to salvation.
The theme of “light” is part of how we celebrate this feast of the Presentation of the Lord. We began with the blessing of candles.
For us today candles may be seen only as decoration but they are more. In ancient times, candles were how people lit their homes and churches. Candles were the source of light.
While we use electricity and light bulbs to light our churches today, we continue to use candles in church. The Sanctuary Lamp near the Tabernacle burns to tell us that Jesus who is the light of the world is present in the Tabernacle.
We use candles on the altar to remind us that Jesus comes and presents himself on the altar at the consecration.
Jesus is the light that guides us. Jesus is the light that we receive in Baptism. When a child is baptized, their baptismal candle is lit from the Paschal Candle and the presider says words that include, “Receive the light of Christ…May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart.”
That flame is the Lord within us. The flame is “fire.” Fire can be destructive. It was also be cleansing. For example, a controlled burn in a forest removes the “scruff” so that the good trees can thrive.
God’s fire is a good fire. It refines us and purifies us. For example, the heat of a fire is necessary in transforming mineral ores into the metals in the forms we use. Do we let God’s fire symbolized in the candles refine us? Do we allow ourselves, do we allow our lives to be transformed by Jesus?
Today we celebrate The Presentation of the Lord. Our opening prayer contains the words “we may be presented to you with minds made pure.” Each time we come for Mass, each time we come forth for Communion, we present ourselves to the Lord.
May the “king of glory” come into our hearts!