The Presentation of the Lord: Omens of the Falling and Rising of Many

The Presentation of the Lord: Omens of the Falling and Rising of Many February 1, 2020

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Sunday, February 2, 2020

“Presentation at the Temple,” by Giovanni Bellini. Wikimedia / Public Domain.

Luke 2:22-40

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.

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.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
–and you yourself a sword will pierce–
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

 

Today in the temple, the Gospel points to the sacrificial and redemptive future of the newborn Christ.

Joseph and Mary fulfill the law of God on behalf of Jesus, presenting him in the temple and offering sacrifice to redeem (literally “buy back”) or pay for his freedom as a son of Israel.

This law served as a reminder that God freed the people of Israel from slavery by killing every firstborn male of Egypt.

The law and its required sacrifice point our faith forward to the redemption and freedom God the Father would give us to be his children by the sacrifice and resurrection of his Firstborn, God the Son.

In today’s Gospel, God the Holy Spirit speaks in the temple through Simeon and links Mary with the saving work of her Son.

Mary’s heart is to suffer when her Son is contradicted.

The Gospel of God simply says Mary shall suffer “so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Her Son “is destined for the fall and rise”— the resurrection— “of many in Israel.”

Later, in the Holy Gospel according to John, we see the role Mary has in the death and resurrection of her Son.

She is to mother her Son’s disciple as a witness of the cross.

Christ on the cross tells his disciple to be mothered by Mary, thereby making a brother of his disciple.

The Gospel testifies that the disciple whom Jesus loves is a witness of the cross, and from the cross he takes Mary into his own home, into where he lives, into how he lives.

The disciple at home with His New Mother from the Cross shall receive the news of the resurrection.

Mary and Joseph redeemed the Israelite freedom of the infant Christ in the temple, thus freeing him to redeem us all through Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Mary obediently and faithfully mothered and accompanied Christ and his mission.

May her obedience and faithfulness mother us as disciples when we present ourselves as temples of the Lord, when the thoughts of our hearts are revealed, when we witness our own crosses and fall beneath them, and as we wait patiently to rise in our own resurrections.

 


Dear Readers:

I am a freelance writer in California. A California law forbids media organizations such as Patheos to publish more than 35 individual works per year of a freelance writer residing in California without hiring that writer as a salaried employee. So as not to exceed 35 articles per year, I will post articles here at Patheos about once in every 10 or 11 days.

Between my postings here at Patheos, I will make extras” available at a personal blog: Monk Notes.


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