This Sunday, February 2, we celebrate the Presentation of the Our Lord in the Temple. This is a beautiful feast! For this occasion I include the Gospel reading (Luke 2:22-40) from Holy Mass for February 2 and a homily from St Sophronius, Bishop, about the meaning of this special feast:
“When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “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 may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”
From a homily by St. Sophronius:
“In honor of the Divine Mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light.
Our lighted candles are a sign of the Divine Splendor of the One who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of His Eternal Light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.
The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the True Light in her arms and brought Him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet Him.
The light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows; the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through Him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God.
The true light has come, the Light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this Light. Let all of us share in Its splendor, and be so filled with It that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the Light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the Light, who sent the true Light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in His splendor.
Through Simeon’s eyes we too have seen the salvation of God which He prepared for all the nations and revealed as the glory of the new Israel, which is ourselves. As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.
By Faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as He came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God. Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen Him present among us and have mentally received Him into our arms, we are called the new Israel. Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in His honor.”
Through the intercession of the Holy Family and St. Columbkill, may God bless you, your families and our parish!
In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel
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