Jan 31, 2011

A light for the Nations

Just when you thought the Christmas season was over we are taken back for a moment this Wednesday to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 40 days after Christmas.  This annual marking of the Lord's presentation in the Temple of Jerusalem is not a moment out of sequence.  Fourty days after the birth of the first born son, according to ancient Jewish custom, the child is brought to the Temple, along with his parents, to be presented to the Lord; consecrated for his service. 

As was their custom, Joseph and Mary who were among the faithful Jews, followed this ancient tradition.  However, more was waiting for them. Not only was Jesus' destiny proclaimed in the prophecy of Simeon - that he would be "a sign that will be contradicted . . ." (Lk 2: 34) but Mary as well heard that her future would involve a share in her son's mission: ". . . you yourself a sword will pierce. . ." (2:35). According to tradition, candles may be blessed this day (Candlemas Day). That candle symbolizes the very words of Simeon who prophesied about Jesus as he held the infant in his arms:

Lord, now you let you servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

We have all received the "light of Christ" at our baptism.  How brightly is that light still shining in my heart?  My life?  My words and actions?  Has it gone dim and is it in need of forgiveness or reconciliation?  The beautiful healing we experience in the Sacrament of Reconciliation shines the very light of God's mercy upon us.  How long has it been?

Luke 2: 22-32

When the days were completed for his 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.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”