Homily for the presentation of the Lord29 Jan 2020, by Sermons in
Homily for the presentation of the Lord
Forty days after Christmas, we celebrate today the presentation of the Lord. It is also the World Day of the Consecrated Life. We pray God to strengthen all those called to live the religious or consecrated life in the Church, amen.
On this day, we celebrate the Lord’s presentation; Mary and Joseph brought in the baby Jesus into the temple to do for him what the Law required. For God had said, consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the Israelites, of human beings and animals, is mine. Exodus 13:2. In obedience to this law, Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple.
Today’s feast reminds me of Easter Vigil Mass when we all processed into the Church with lighted candles following the priest or the deacon, who carries the lighted paschal candle and chants three times, “The light of Christ.” And three times, we respond, “Thanks be to God.” We processed into the Church with our lighted candles to brighten the darkened Church.
Today, as we celebrate the presentation of the Lord, we see Mary and Joseph processed into the temple, not carrying the paschal candle, not only carrying the light of Christ but Christ the light. Only when we accept and embrace Christ the light, we can carry the light of Christ. Unless we have him in us, we would have nothing to carry. When Christ the light entered the temple, Simeon recognized him; he took the child in his arms and praised God. He referred to the child as a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Simeon saw the child as one destined for the falling and rising of many, he saw him as a sign that will be opposed, and for his sake, a sword will pierce Mary’s heart. Anna, the prophetess, came at that moment, praising God and also telling people about the child. Mary and Joseph wondered at the things that were said about the child.
The feast we celebrate today may be an outward fulfillment of the law, but inwardly or spiritually, Christ is coming to meet with his people; it is a feast of encounter. We encounter him in our prayers, in his word, and most especially in the Eucharist today. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in our second reading says, “It is clear that Jesus did not come to help Angels, but the descendants of Abraham,” he entered human history to be our help. Just as Simeon and Anna welcomed him, so we are challenged to welcome him and walk daily in his light.
Simeon prophesied that the child presented is destined for the falling and rising of many, a sign that will be opposed. That prophecy was and still a prophesy that reflects the inevitable conflict that comes with the acceptance of Christ. There will be challenges, the power of darkness will challenge our faith in Christ the light, and society will pressure us to ignore our fathers’ beliefs in faith. In such moments, focus on Christ the light and never let go of your faith.
Mary and Joseph did not give up even though they could not provide the law’s full requirements. The law required for purification was a lamb and a pigeon or a turtle dove (Leviticus 12:6). But the law also made provision for the poor; if she cannot afford a lamb, she should take two turtle-doves or two pigeons (Leviticus 12:8). That was what Mary offered, a sacrifice prescribed for the poor. Yet, she remained confident because she held the Lamb of God in her hands, Christ the light.
We welcome Christ, the light who comes into the temple to meet with us, and by the light of his presence, we dispel the power of darkness and walk in his light. Amen!