“And 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.” (Luke 2:22)
Today we recall how Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus to the temple to do for him what the law prescribed. Simeon received the child, blessed them and part of what he said to Mary was that “a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” Honestly, if I was in the shoes of Mary at this point, that is the last thing I would like to hear. Yet, Simon simply spoke as the Spirit directed.
Recall that on Sunday we heard Moses addressing the people of Israel warning them of prophets who lie in the name of God or speak in the name of other gods. Moses also added that one way to know if the prophet is from God is when what he prophesies come to pass. (Read More in Deuteronomy 18:20-22). It is easy to tell people what they want to hear but it is always better to tell them only what God has spoken.
Even our first reading talks about the promised messenger whose coming will be like a refiner’s fire purifying our hearts like gold and silver which are made to pass through fire in other to remove impurities. The sword that Simeon is talking about is a symbol of the sufferings that Mary would have to bear watching Jesus scourged, crucified and die on the Cross.
Given that this day falls on a weekday, there are just two readings but if today was a Sunday, we would have read from the book of Hebrews (2:14-18). In that passage, we are made to understand that Jesus was made like us in every respect. Jesus did not just take our flesh, He completely entered into our human condition; He followed the Law of Moses like every other firstborn male child. There was no “preferential treatment” so to say. In fact, Jesus suffered and experienced temptation in the flesh like every human being. As we have noted already, it was with regards to this suffering of Jesus that Simon was prophesying about.
At the Epiphany of Jesus, we saw how the wise men presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. The gift of Myrrh carried a deep-seated message and this message is re-echoed in Simon’s words at the Presentation – Jesus was born not to live but to die! As myrrh pointed to the Cross so did the sword piercing through Mary’s soul pointed at the Cross. Jesus had not even begun to talk yet but it was certain that He would die, though, for a good cause.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his reflection on the life of Christ, particularly on the fact that He came not to live but to die noted that, just like Christ, the priest who is Persona-Christi is ordained, not to live but to die and to offer his life as a sacrifice for the good of others.
I think we can also extend this truth to everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian. I mean, if we claim to be like Christ, we must never forget that this world does not belong to us; that we shall all die but more importantly, that we must offer our lives for the good of others. We are born not to live in this world forever but to die. Rather than live with the fear of death, we must strive to make our death worthwhile by making the greatest impact possible with our lives.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to be humble and docile as you were in following the Law and help me to constantly present my very life to you. Amen.
Bible Study: Malachi 3:1-4, Psalm 24 and Luke 2:22-40).