OPEN THE GATES OF YOUR HEARTS THAT THE LORD, THE MIGHTY, THE VALIANT MAY ENTER
First Reading: Malachi 3:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 23(24):7-10
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-40
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, forty days after the birth of Jesus, shows us Mary and Joseph who, in obedience to the Mosaic Law, go to the Temple of Jerusalem to offer the Child, as the firstborn, to the Lord, and to ‘redeem’ him through a sacrifice (Lk 2, 22-24). It is one of the cases in which the liturgical season reflects history because, today is precisely forty days since the Solemnity of the Lord’s Christmas; the light of Christ, which characterized the cycle of Christmas feasts and culminated in the Solemnity of Epiphany, is resumed and extended in today’s feast. In the encounter between old Simeon and the young mother Mary, the Old and New Testament are united admirably in thanksgiving for the gift of Light, which shone in the darkness, preventing it from prevailing. Christ the Lord is the Light to enlighten all peoples and the glory of his people Israel (cf. Lk 2:32). In the East, this Feast is called the Feast of the Encounter: indeed, Simeon and Anna, who find Jesus in the Temple and recognize in Him the long-awaited Messiah, represent the humanity that finds its Lord in the Church. It is a beautiful encounter with God, who comes to save man in need of salvation. We contemplate this mystery in the prayer of the Rosary, in the joyful mysteries. It is, therefore, a joyful mystery: Salvation has come, the Saviour has come!
The encounter of Jesus with Simeon and Anne in the temple of Jerusalem appears as the symbol of a much greater and universal reality: humanity finds its God in the Church. We heard from the Prophet Malachi in the first reading who foreshadowed this encounter: “Look, I am going to send my messenger to prepare a way before me. And the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple; and the angel of the covenant whom you are longing for, yes, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts.” In the Temple (as illustrated by today’s gospel reading), Simeon recognized Jesus as the expected Messiah and proclaimed him Saviour and light of the world. He understood that, from now on, the destiny of each man was decided according to the attitude assumed towards him; Jesus will be the cause of the fall and rising of many. Reflecting deeper, we understand that at that moment it is God Himself who presents his Only Begotten Son to men, through the words of old Simeon and the prophetess Anna. In fact, Simeon proclaims Jesus as “Salvation” of humanity, as “Light” of all peoples and “sign of contradiction,” because it will reveal the thoughts of hearts.
Dear friends in Christ, Our Lady prepared her heart, as only she could do it, to present her Son to God the Father and to offer herself with Him. In doing so, she renewed her fiat (YES) and put again her life in the hands of God. Therefore, the liturgy of this feast wants to show, in effect, that the life of a Christian is like an offering to the Lord, translated into the procession of lit candles that are consumed little by little, while illuminating. Christ is prophesied as the Light that brings out the darkness from darkness into the world. This visible sign is intended to mean that the Church finds in the faith the One who is “the Light of men” and welcomes him with faith to bring this “Light” to the world. We are invited to give our Lord, once again, our lives, thoughts, works, our whole being. And we can do it in many ways. We are also called to remember our participation in the mission of Christ, which was given to us in Baptism, is strictly linked to our personal surrender.
Also, today’s Feast of the Presentation of the Lord honours greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ more closely by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels; giving themselves without measure, to burn before God like the candlelight, illuminating those who walk in darkness; and bearing testimony to the life of the gospel – a “life of contradiction.”
Above all, as we recall the Lord’s entrance into His temple today for presentation, may the gates of our hearts (the temples of the Holy Spirit) grow higher and be disposed to always welcome the “Lord of armies,” the mighty, the valiant in war, the King of glory, as today’s psalmist reflects. Amen
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?