Homily for the Presentation of the Lord - Year B - Lk. 2:22-40


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord' (Ex. 13:2) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.


"Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.'


"And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 'Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.'


"And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.


"And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him."





Homily:


"When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord' (Ex. 13:2) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."


Forty days after his birth, the Child Jesus is presented in the Temple by his parents, Joseph and Mary. Forty days after December 25, 2002 is today: February 2, 2003. As today is Sunday, the feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple replaces the celebration of the fourth Sunday of ordinary time. And finally, today, February 2, we also celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life, the consecration of the Child Jesus to God being the model of all consecration...


So, Jesus was consecrated to God by Mary and Joseph. Or rather, it was Mary alone who consecrated him to the Lord, for Joseph, as we know, had no part in the virginal conception of Jesus. Certainly, as God, the Savior of mankind did not require consecration: he was and would eternally remain consecrated to God his Father. But, as man, Jesus had to be consecrated to the Lord by Mary, his Mother, in order to be, in this way, the model for all those who would one day become his brothers and sisters in the Spirit, the members of his Mystical Body, the great family of God destined to live for the Father, Creator of Heaven and earth.


In the Church, the great family of God - of which the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph constitutes the model - consecration to God can be lived in various ways. First, the most common and widespread way is that of those who are baptized and confirmed in Christ, those who live in the world without being of the world, while nonetheless having a certain spirit of the world: they live in the world in order to procreate and to propagate the human race to the ends of the universe. These are the most numerous of the consecrated. Some of them are saints, but not all of them...


Second, the consecration to God that is the most radical and absolute is that of monks and nuns. Most of these have left the world, body and soul, and have sought refuge in convents or monasteries, in order to seek God and to find him in peace of heart and soul. The world is already dead to them, or rather, it is they who are already dead to the world. Riches, honors, glory, and all the lures of seduction do not interest them: they live or try to live as if they were already in Heaven! They are saints, but they do not know it, or do not want to know it...


Finally, the last consecration to God is that of priests and of all those who consecrate themselves to the ordained ministry, such as seminarians and deacons. Priests have definitively refused to procreate, observing celibacy. For they have another task: that of having as many souls as possible be born to Jesus Christ. This consecration is their own and they try to live it as best they can, asking God that it might serve to further their own sanctification... All of the consecrated, whether religious or simply baptized, have a duty to pray for priests, and, like past generations, they cry to the Lord: "Give us priests! Give us holy priests!"


"Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.' "


[ I recopy here what I had written for the feast of the Holy Family (December 29, 2002). On that feast we read the same gospel as we do today... ]


The Holy Family had barely entered the Temple of Jerusalem when, already, it grew larger by gaining a new member: old Simeon! Certainly, he was not the first member of the Mystical Body of Christ: clearly it was Joseph, the spouse of Mary, who had this honor. But Simeon is the first worshipper of the Lord whose words were recorded by the evangelists. Saint Luke, most probably, had learned directly from the Most Blessed Virgin all that he wrote about the childhood of Jesus. So, we can be sure that what Saint Luke tells us is of great importance for a proper understanding of this event in the life of the Lord.


What does Simeon teach us? He was "looking for the consolation of Israel," writes Saint Luke (2:25). Here we see the path marked out for every Christian to follow: we must look for the Lord! For he is coming! He has already come, and he will return one day, at the end of time. All Christians - followers of Christ, men, women, and children - we are all awaiting our redemption. Old Simeon opened his arms wide to welcome the Child Jesus; he looked at Mary, who approached him and placed in his hands the Child God whom she had recently brought into the world!


"And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 'Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.' "


The Church is a great family, which is made up of many members, and sometimes these members are very different from each other. One must respect all these differences, and we must not want everyone to fit the same mold. This is especially true when one is in the presence of people whom God has filled and favored with astonishing gifts, such as the gift of prophecy. But is this really such an astonishing gift? Why does the gift of prophecy astonish us, when Simeon had been favored with it, he who seems here to be the very model of the children of God? Would this not be because, contrary to Simeon, we pay little attention to what the Spirit of God tells us?


Let us not smother the voice of the Spirit. The world in which we live leaves no place for the Spirit of God: we have distractions to which we can quickly turn in order not to believe what the Spirit tells us. Sociology, psychology, psychiatric analysis, and pure Cartesian reasoning have quickly reduced to nothing whatever prophetic pretensions there may exist both in the world and in the Church today. Rare are those who listen to the Spirit of God and who follow the Spirit in a docile manner. Let us not forget, even as we celebrate the birth of the Lord: "Many are called, few are chosen." (Mt. 22:14)


"And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him."


The Church is a great family, the great family of God. The Church is prophetic: she proclaims the Kingdom of God. Simeon, as well as the prophetess Anna, are there to witness to this. But do we really believe it? Do we believe that God himself can speak to us, and that he really does so? If yes, this is good: the Holy Spirit is with us! If not, let us look at Jesus the child, let us turn our eyes toward this young man who is God, but who underwent thirty years of submission to his parents, Joseph and Mary. So, if we humbly ask him for it, he will give us his grace, the grace of truly believing that he is the All-Powerful One, that he can do anything, that through his Spirit, he, the Word of God, can speak to us.


May Mary intercede for us with her divine Son in order that we too, in today's world, might be authentic prophets and true witnesses to the Word!




Use Google to find your Sunday homily!
Google
Search meynen.homily-service.net
Search computer.homily-service.net
Search WWW




To order the weekly homily immediately, click here