The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ is filled with many different points of reference. The Prophet Malachi reminds us that this feast is about the coming of the Lord to the Temple. The passage from the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that the purpose of Jesus’ coming into our world was the expiation of our sins. The Gospel of St. Luke focuses our attention on both the light that Jesus brings into a world darkened by sin as well as the suffering that will be necessary to complete the plan that God has for our salvation.
The Gospel also makes us aware of the fact that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to fulfill the Law of the Lord. Luke mentions the law of the Lord no fewer than five times in this passage from the Gospel. Why did God ask this of the children of Israel?
In the Book of Exodus we read: “When the Lord, your God has brought you into the land of the Canaanites, which he swore to you and your ancestors he would give you, you shall dedicate to the Lord every son that opens the womb; and all the male firstlings of your animals shall belong to the Lord. . . If your child should ask you later on, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall tell him, ‘With a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, that place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord took every first-born in the land of Egypt, every first-born of man and of beast.’ That is why we redeem the first-born of our sons.”
The act of presenting the first born to God is meant as a reminder of what God had done for them in bringing them out of the slavery of Egypt. So this feast is meant as a reminder for us of what God has done for us in freeing us from the bondage of sin. God so loved us that God sent Jesus to die that we might live, to dispel the darkness imposed by the sins of humankind.
The candles that grace our altar stand as silent sentinels in our own place of worship to help us recall that Jesus is the Light in the midst of our darkness. Sin still tries to extinguish that light, however with Simeon we call out in praise of God who has revealed a light to lead us out of the darkness of sin into the light of salvation.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator