lunes, 3 de febrero de 2014

Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple

4th Sunday in the Ordinary Time
February 2, 2014
Lk 2:22-40

Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God…

Today, the entire universal Church commemorates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord where, as devout and pious Jews, the Holy Family went to the temple and fulfilled the Law of Moses: first, for the purification of the mother after giving birth; and second, the presentation of Jesus as the firstborn male to the Lord.

This episode in Jesus’ life reveals to us the fullness with which Jesus embraced our humanity. He became man and underwent very human experiences, from conception to death within the culture and tradition of a people chosen by his Father from of old. He allowed himself to go through the rigors of the religious institution of his time. Thus, he was presented to the Lord just like any first born male child as is customary among the Jews. There was nothing extraordinary in the event that Luke did not even describe what transpired in the presentation, while the finer details were more about the purification of Mary. Jesus did not really need to be presented to the Lord in any way. He did not need to be consecrated in a ritual. He is from the Father, and his incarnation did not change his perfect union with the Father. But the parents of baby Jesus were simply complying with their religious obligation.

Our founder, Saint John Eudes, made three distinct consecration of himself during his lifetime: when he gave and dedicated himself to the love of the Virgin Mary by putting a ring to her finger; when he consecrated his own purity when he was a teenager; and lastly, when he made a vow of martyrdom. All these gave witness to his deep understanding of the immense love of God, and how he is responding to it in total abandon.

We are also called to consecrate not only the firstborn male but all of ourselves, not only our abilities and giftedness but also our weaknesses and sinfulness. It is in consecrating ourselves that we acknowledge that we are from God, and that we agree in full freedom to offer the totality of our being to him.

- Adapted from the reflections of Sem. Robert Leus


O Jesus, the light of our salvation, give us the grace to recognize you as you present yourself to the Father and to the world that we may always welcome you into our hearts and claim our identity your bearers to our own corners of the world as you live and reign forever. Amen.

Jesus' Council of Elders 

and Welcoming Committee

Photo credit:

The first reading comes from the last book of the Prophets which was probably written after the reconstruction and dedication of the 2nd Temple of Jerusalem. Many Jews had already returned from the Babylonian exile. It was an exciting development that the Persian King had allowed them to come home to do just that. Yet the stark reality stared back at them: The people of God were still under foreign domination and the Davidic reign had not yet been restored. To their mind, the restoration into God’s covenant was not yet complete. For as long as the political and economic independence of Israel and the rule of David is undermined, the original order meant for them by God would always be a gnawing hunger in their journey towards total well-being as a community.

The promised sending of the messenger who will prepare the way of the Lord, therefore, came as an assurance that God had not forgotten his people (Malachi 3:1-4). God continued to favor them as his elect, and remained interested in them, so much so that the messenger would be the instrument of the Lord to refine and purify the people to prepare them for the Lord’s own coming. The Church interprets this messenger to be John the Baptist, while Jesus Christ is the Lord who would suddenly come to his Temple.

This theme of the Lord’s coming is more focused in Psalm 24 where the ancient gate of the city were presented as the personification of a council of elders awaiting anxiously the return of the army and the great warrior-king gone to battle. In those days, when Israel as well as other nations go to war, the King did not just stay in their palace and order his army to fight for him and his dominion. He himself led his army, and fought along side his own footmen, horsemen, charioteers and generals. Hence his Kingdom is left under the care of a council of elders charged to keep the day to day administration affecting the lives of the people until the King comes back. The call to the gates to lift up the lintel was a call to open and enlarge the heart to welcome the glorious King, so that in turn they may lead the rest of the people to welcome the Lord as well.

The call to the gates to lift up 

the lintel was a call to open and 

enlarge the heart to welcome 

the glorious King

Photo credit:

Our gospel today, the presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, presented in our liturgy as among the beginnings of the prophecy’s fulfillment, identified the baby Jesus’ very own Council of Elders, composed of Simeon and Anna. They welcome the Lord, the glorious King, with open arms. Both were ordinary persons, and perhaps were of no consequence and influence to the Jewish society of Jerusalem. It is not clear whether Simeon was a priest or merely working for the Temple for some other tasks. Tradition holds that he was a translator of the scriptures to Latin. Luke did not give any information on the matter except that Simeon did live in the Temple. If he were a priest, he made his pronouncements outside his official duty as a priest. Prophetess Anna, daughter of Phanuel.

Anna did not even belong to the priestly clan of the Levites, chosen by the Lord for the priestly functions.

(Photo credit: 

On the other hand, Anna did not even belong to the priestly clan of the Levites, chosen by the Lord for the priestly functions. She came from the tribe of Asher, and therefore a descendant of the 8th son of Jacob through Lea’s servant, Zilpah.

The two were outside the official Temple institution and rites but they became central characters in the story, instead of the priest who had performed the ritual offering for Mary’s sacrifice and purification, or the priest whom Joseph might have paid the five shekels for the redemption of the baby Jesus as a first born male child in the custom of the Jews following the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law. Luke, our stolly teller, did not even mention what transpired during the religious rituals performed. He merely mentioned them as the occasion that prompted to the visit to the Temple of what might have appeared to the peope as another ordinary Galilean family. Luke instead recorded the extraordinary encounter of these two simple and ordinary elders with Jesus. They were both righteous and devout seekers. They were both ardent PRAY-ERs and worshipers at the Temple. Because of this, they might have gone deeper in their personal relationship with God that their hearts and minds were ready and open. And so, they both recognized who the baby Jesus was – the Christ of God.

Simeon, moved by the Holy Spirit, blessed God and pronounced a prophecy about the child and his mother. Anna gave thanks to God and proclaimed who the child was to those in the Temple. They were outsiders to the official Temple worship yet made chief actors in the revelation of who Jesus is right at the onset of God’s fulfillment of his promise. Thus, as the Council of Elders of and Welcoming Committee for the baby Jesus, their witness shine as model of devout and prayerful life for generations and generations of followers of Christ.

How does the Word of God this Sunday affect us? It is something we all have to take down to the particularities of our lives in our relationship with God. In any way the Word leads us, the invitation is a call to a greater awareness of how we open our hearts in prayer to recognize Jesus in our day to day experiences, and how we in welcoming and accepting him in concrete ways become mindful bearers of Christ to God who is present in other people. 


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