“But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears?” ~ Malachi 3:2
On this the day that our Church commemorates the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem, thus officially inducting him into Judaism, our Readings (Malachi 3:1-4 & Hebrews 2:14-18) describe this “messenger of the covenant” (Mal 3:1) in both mysteriously apocalyptic yet very tangible and relatable terms, reminding us that Jesus’ Kingdom is both here and yet to come. Malachi likens Jesus and his ways to that of a refiner’s fire, purifying the faithful as a refiner purifies silver, an apt metaphor in as much as we are precious like silver in the hands of our loving and merciful Father. Jesus the Son was sent to heal us, he shape us, challenge and transform us. He indeed makes us a new creation. Do you pray for fire?
In Hebrews (2:14-18) we are reminded that Jesus went to his death in order to destroy death, to “free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all of their lives.” Crippling fear fueled by the impending doom of uncertainty has been replaced by divine hope. Jesus’ ability to expiate sins was granted to him by virtue of His Incarnation, becoming like his brothers and sisters of this Earth in every way except sin, that for which he alone went to the cross so as to conquer it forever. Yes, the author of Hebrews calls the faithful followers of Jesus, you and I, His brothers and sisters, for that is precisely what we are. Jesus said as much in Wednesday’s Gospel (Mark 3:31–35) when he responded to the man who told him that his mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for him when he responded while simultaneously looking out at his followers “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and my sister and mother.” When faced with life’s trials and tribulations, when we are being tested, we can with full and total confidence turn to our brother Jesus, for he too was tested in the same ways. And then some.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 2:22-40, we encounter the faithful and resolute servant Simeon, waiting patiently for God to fulfill his promise, that “his eyes may see his salvation, the light of revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for the people of Israel.”
Was there ever any doubt? Not in Simeon’s mind, who we are told was blessed with the divine revelation that can only come from the Holy Spirit. Through the life he led, one rooted in the spiritual gifts of fortitude, piety, self-control and humility, his faith and hope in the arrival of the coming Messiah was repeatedly fueled and galvanized. Yes, God sought Simeon’s participation and cooperation in the cultivation of his spiritual perseverance and growth. He does so with us as well.
We are told that even Mary and Joseph were amazed at Simeon’s testimony, and his prophecy, obviously inspired by the wisdom, understanding and divine grace of God and the Holy Spirit, would of course be prophetic when he went on to say “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 will be revealed.” Herein lies the paradox of this seminal event; although celebrated as the 4th Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, Simeon’s Prophecy would also be the first of the seven swords that would pierce our Blessed Mother’s sorrowful and anguished heart https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Our-Lady-of-Sorrows.
In his morning reflection, Bishop Baron has this to say about Simeon: “The old seer is a symbol of ancient Israel, watching and waiting for the coming of the Messiah. Simeon knew all of the old prophecies; he embodied the expectation of the nation; and the Holy Spirit had given him the revelation that he would not die until he had laid eyes on his Savior.”
Of the Presentation, Saint John Paul II said “Let us look at Mary and Joseph carrying to the temple in Jerusalem a baby. It is the fortieth day after his birth. And they are presenting him in the temple to fulfil a precept of the law. But much more than the law is being fulfilled by their obedience. The prophecies of old are all being, fulfilled. For Mary and Joseph are bringing to the temple the ‘light of all the nations’.” As we celebrate this great Feast Day of the Church, let us take the words of Pope Saint John Paul II to heart as we ask for his intercession and of course the intercession of Mother Mary to assist us in being like the Queen of Heaven when it comes to presenting Jesus to the world in which we live.
“My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples.” ~ Luke 2:30-31
For more on today’s 1st Reading (Malachi 3:1-4), please revisitmy previous Essay which can be accessed via the Link below: