This week we are taking a short break in “Ordinary Time” as we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord. This is one of my favorite Gospel passages to visualize. However, a little background is needed to help understand what is happening. Our Blessed Lord Jesus has just been circumcised. It is the first time our Lord would shed blood on the Earth. This is in keeping with the Jewish law and covenant. Now since He is the First Born, He must be presented at the Temple. There are two reasons for this. First, the birth of a male child disqualifies an Israelite woman from touching any Holy object or approaching the Temple for 40 days, after which time she must offer a sacrifice in Jerusalem of either a sheep or if the family was poor, then they could offer two Turtle doves or Pigeons. The offerings cleansed the women of any legal impurities and were a customary ritual which followed the birth of a male child. It had nothing to do with moral failures or any guilt. Mary and Joseph followed all of the Jewish requirements for the presentation. Since the Holy Family was poor, they offered the two turtle doves as their sacrifice.
Now here is where the reading gets fun. We are introduced to two of my favorite characters in Luke’s Gospel. An old Jewish man named Simeon, and a Prophetess named Anna. Both of these individuals longed for the coming of the Messiah. God even revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Messiah of God. I wonder if Simeon thought that the Messiah might be some great political figure who is loved by the people. Perhaps it would be a great military man who routs all of Israel’s enemies. Maybe even an apparition of some kind. Did he really think that the long awaited Messiah would come to him in the form of a little tiny baby? Yet, as soon as he sees the child, he knows this is the one. I can practically see him holding baby Jesus and dancing around as the joy in his heart erases the lines of age on his face. He has seen the Christ. He prophesies that this child would be a contradiction to many, and so He is. Simply look at a cross and you have two completely contrary pieces of wood, one vertical and one horizontal, and meeting in the middle. The very spot where the ultimate sacrifice of love would occur, and change humanity forever. The Cross, a sign of contradiction.
So, this week, let us present ourselves to the Lord. Try to visualize Gospel passages and let them come alive, and finally, be not afraid to do a little Jewish two step to the Lord in prayer. It will make you smile…Something to think about…May God richly bless you always.