The Presentation in the Temple
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
Waiting for a cause! This captures Simeon’s character in the Gospel. In his old age, he patiently waited for that moment of encounter with Jesus. He eagerly waited for him to be presented at the temple and to cuddle him in his arms. For him, what mattered in that stage of his life was his intense desire for a personal encounter with Jesus. Such disposition was manifested in his canticle.
Henri Nouwin’s cliché that what is most important is the here and now echoes the need to live in the present. Human as we are, we get easily distracted with the future, with the things to come. We do a lot of planning ahead to give us a sense of direction and purpose. However there are times that we become more worrisome. Too late we realize then that we are putting the future in the power of our hands. We forget to give a space of the Spirit to work in us. With Simeon in today’s gospel, we are challenged to reflect on what is really essential. It is humiliating to realize how often we are entrapped by the trivialities of our plans and concerns, forgetting that true meaning and purposed is realized only in our personal awareness of Jesus’ presence in every endeavor.
Do we fix our eyes on the ultimate union with God? The answer is found in our sincere desire to discover him in both the ordinary and complex occurrences of our day to day living. (Frt. Samuel N. Agcaracar, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
Today’s gospel event is a story of ‘gift-giving.’ Jesus was presented as a gift offered to God as a fulfillment of a certain law during his time the law says that every firstborn male was sacred to God. The idea is that the firstborn belonged to the Lord who spared the life of the Israelite firstborn when he slew the firstborn of the Egyptians during the time of Moses in the Old Testament.
In general, life is always a gift from God. The people of Israel, therefore, recognized the gracious power and generosity of God in giving human life. Life is a property of God. In view of the graciousness of God bestowed on them, Joseph and Mary as devout Jewish parents returned to the temple not only to thank God for the gift of life given to Jesus but to offer and to consecrate the same life before God. They offered Jesus as the best gift that came from a generous heart, which desired nothing except only to please and to give what is best for God.
What is our response to today’s reading? Gift-giving is always a part of life. Gifts are not only meant to express the best in us but to express the best of our love, respect and appreciation to someone.
God surely has simple tastes and is easy to please. He never expects from us the most expensive and precious gift. He demands only a humble and a generous heart which knows nothing else but only to love and to trust God at all times. May it be our gift to Him today and the coming days of the New Year 2006! (Fr. Gerry Donato, SVD Bible Diary 2005)
When some people lose hope they either break down or give up on life. The numerous cases of suicide, mental breakdown and broken marriages in these times are indications that some people easily succumb to hopeless. Less tolerant to pains or trials that come our way, we easily become impatient to long periods of waiting for the answers or solutions to our problems.
In today’s gospel, Anna, the prophetess speaks to us of hopefulness instead. Anna believed that she would see the Savior. Widowed, she endured patiently the long period of waiting even in her old age until she finally saw the Infant Jesus had proclaimed salvation joyfully. In spite of the trials that came her way considering her being a widow and being advanced in age, she kept her faith. How many of us would still remain hopeful after so many years of waiting for what we long.
What was the secret of Anna? It was her relationship with God that kept her hopeful ‘til the end. Her heart was full of hope, hope that never run out because she never failed to commune with God. Her whole being was fixed only in God, hoer only hope.
May Jesus who is our Hope be born anew in us. May we allow him to dwell always in our hearts and in the hearts of all people. (Sr. Seng, SSpS Bible Diary 2006)
Every Jewish firstborn was very special. They got a special day in the temple aside from the special looks and treatment they had from the whole community. It must have been the feeling of my eldest brother when he was so sickly as a child. He was the one I followed to the seminary. But even though he decided not to continue to the priesthood, he remains special.
Whenever my mother is with her “seven-up” group (the group of seventy years old and above) and their “sharing” gets into boasting about their children and grandchildren, she always counter-claims that she also has a lawyer and a doctor and a PhD and engineer. But to cap it all she pulls out her final punchline: “And I have also a priest-son!” it has become the running joke at home and it embarrasses me sometimes. Nonetheless, secretly, it makes me proud of myself too.
Nobody can deny that being special is a very special feeling. In fact, everybody should feel like that about oneself. It is essential to mental health and to happiness. Being special is not only an additive to one’s life but is a basic ingredient to being human. This is what it means to be consecrate3d to the Lord.
This is what the Jewish Law wanted to happen. This is what Jesus felt. This is what Simeon believed to see in his lifetime. This is what the gospel wants us to remember: Whoever we are, we are special! Each of us is not only unique; we are special! We have a mission which no one else could do. We are consecrated to the Lord! (Fr. Vic Rayco, SVD Bible Diary 2007)
Today we celebrate the fourth joyful mystery of the rosary. For St. Luke this is a very important event in the story if the infancy of Jesus. We heard the first mystery before Christmas when the coming of the Savior was announced to Mary by the Angel Gabriel. This was followed by the joyful greeting of the Visitation. Then we all rejoiced with the angels as they proclaimed the birth of the Savior to the shepherds. Now Jesus enters His Father’s house. Here we see the future of the Child being foretold in the proclamation of Simeon.. filled with Spirit, Simeon sees that the “darkness is passing and the true light is already shining,” (1st reading). And so the arrival of Jesus is truly “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.”
But this glorious fulfillment will come at great cost. The Child will be a sign of contradiction and many will not accept His teaching. Indeed a sword of sorrow will pierce the heart of Mary. The shadow of the Cross makes its appearance even now.
As we conclude our Christmas celebrations and prepare to take down the as we give thanks for the blessings received at this time, let us never forget why Jesus came among us. Let us also take note of the shadow of the cross and be prepared to follow Jesus on that road. Indeed many of our brothers and sisters carried heavy crosses of pain and sorrow all during this festive season. Did we notice them? And are we prepared to reach out to them as we leave the celebrations behind us? This may cause a sword to pierce our hearts but we will be in the company of Mary the mother of Jesus. There can be no better Christmas gift than that. (Fr. John O’Mahony, SVD Bible Diary 2008)
New Year is just two days away. For sure most people are preparing their so-called, “New Year’s resolutions.” I still recall that whatever I make my New Year’s Resolutions I do some rituals to show to God how sincere I am in doing it. However, after a month of faithfully doing my resolutions, I falter and stumble back to my old ways. So, for the rest of the year, I was back to my old habits, but promising to do my best next year.
In today’s gospel, Simeon shows us the right attitude of not giving up, determination with commitment. We could just imagine him waiting for the Messiah day after day. That was his resolution in life, to see the Messiah. He might have gotten sick and missed a day but he made sure that as soon as he got well he continued his resolution.
Resolutions are good, for they direct us to becoming better persons. However, without determination and commitment, it will just remain an idea. Let us be Simeon who kept and fulfilled his resolution until he finally saw the Messiah with his very own eyes. (Fr. Alan G. Bondoc, SVD Bible Diary 2009)
December 29, 2016 Thursday
In one of my pastoral visits, I visited a house where everybody was busy. The mother welcomed me and offered me something to drink. The daughter was on her cell phone while attending to her mom’s concerns.
That experience reminds me about the rite of purification and presentation of the child done simultaneously as prescribed in Mosaic Law. These rites that Mary and Joseph complied with despite their being favored by God as the Holy Family, spoke of humility and obedience. The Mother of God, even being immaculate and pure, and even knowing that her son was God, did not hesitate to submit herself to the requirements of Jewish Law. Humility and obedience arise when one has total dedication and willingness to listen. Only in this way can Jesus be the light that enlightens every one of us, and not a sign of contradiction. That is why it is necessary to be enlightened and docilely guided by Him. It is also necessary to listen attentively to the church’s teachings and participate in different pastoral activities.
The Blessed Virgin and Sts. Joseph, Simeon and Anna are models of what God requires of us to carry on his work of salvation. If we imitate them, the Holy Spirit will help us to know that Jesus is our Savior and will complete his work of salvation in us. (Fr. Aureenhor Ian Nercua, SVD | Argentina Bible Diary 2016)
Monday, December 28, 2015
5TH DAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF EASTER (YEAR C)
KINSA MAN ANG TAWO NGA MALINAWON UG MALIPAYON? Si Herodes nabalisa pag-ayo ug nalisang sa iyang pagkahibalo nga adunay Batang Mesiyas nga matawo. Apan, si propeta Simeon nalipay kaayo nga nakakugos sa Batang Mesiyas didto sa templo. Tungod niini dili na niya igsapayan kon siya mamatay dihadiha dayon. Nganong managlahi man ang reaksyon ni Herodes ug ni propeta Simeon? Si Herodes tawo nga kalibotanon, naghunahuna sa kaugalingong kaayohan lamang, ug wala moila sa Dios. Ang tawo nga sama niini magpuyo gayod nga mahadlokon. Samtang si Simeon tawo nga matarong, nag-alagad sa Dios ug nag-ampo alang sa kaluwasan sa tanan. Ang tawo nga ingon niini magpabiling lig-on, malaumon ug malinawon bisan atubangan sa kamatayon. Posted by Abet Uy
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
5TH DAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS – LUKAS 2:22-35. KINSA MAN ANG TAWO NGA MALINAWON UG MALIPAYON? Si Herodes nabalisa pag-ayo ug nalisang sa iyang pagkahibalo nga adunay Batang Mesiyas nga matawo. Apan, si propeta Simeon nalipay’g dako nga nakakugos sa Batang Mesiyas didto sa templo. Tungod niini dili na niya igsapayan kon siya mamatay dihadiha dayon. Nganong managlahi man ang reaksyon ni Herodes ug ni propeta Simeon? Si Herodes tawo nga kalibotanon, naghunahuna sa kaugalingon lamang, ug wala moila sa Dios. Ang tawo nga sama niini magpuyo gayod nga mahadlokon. Samtang si Simeon tawo nga matarong, Diosnon ug nag-ampo alang sa kaluwasan sa tanan. Ang tawo nga sama kaniya magpabiling lig-on, malinawon, ug malipayon. Sakto ang gisulat: “Joy is not the absence of suffering; it is the presence of God.” Posted by Abet Uy
SIMEON’S PATIENCE – …he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. – Luke 2:26
There was a girl named Tabitha who was worried because she had been waiting for her One True Love for almost two decades. She started waiting for her prince charming when she was only 12 years old. She had been in a relationship before, but the man didn’t turn out to be God’s best for her. So Tabitha began to worry. With age and pressure from others, she considered settling down with a man whom she knew didn’t meet her list of non-negotiables.
It’s not easy to wait. That’s why I’m amazed that Simeon had the patience and the passion to tarry in the temple for the Messiah to show up. He could have given up on the promise of the Holy Spirit and pursued something else in his life. But he didn’t. Simeon focused and waited on the Savior with fervor.
His waiting bore fruit and the Spirit’s promise was fulfilled. Simeon’s purpose was accomplished the day he laid His eyes on the Child Jesus. It happened because he didn’t give up waiting. JPaul Hernandez (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reflection: Do you have prayer requests that were not answered this year? Can you still wait for God’s answer next year —or the next?
I open myself to Your unmerited favor, Jesus. Wow me with Your grace and fill my life with blessings.
PROMISE FULFILLED – We have so many ways of expressing our satisfaction and delight over some wonderful experiences. One Filipino concept on this is saying, “Puwede na akong mamatay.” This says that an experience may have satisfied some deep longing so much that its coming makes one say, “That completes me already, I no longer need anything else. Now I can die happy.”
The Gospel that is proclaimed in the Compline or the Night Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours of the Church is found in today’s Gospel: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
These words were spoken by Simeon, a “righteous and devout man, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.” Those words were uttered by a man who has seen the fulfillment of a promise. He says, “I am OK now. I am willing to die. Nothing more is desired by my heart. The coming of my promised Savior already completes me.”
As Simeon rejoices in the Lord for His coming even before he experiences death, he made a startling prophecy — the Child is to be the cause of the fall and rising of many in Israel. Simeon rejoices in the fulfillment of a promise, now another one is being made through him. And we know how this will once again cause so much rejoicing on the part of those who will receive such wonderful grace of being “raised” up by God all because of this Child whose coming we rejoice about. Fr. Sandy Enhaynes
REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you still waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise to you? His answer is on its way.
Dearest God, I hold on to Your promise. Make me patient in waiting.
WE ARE AN OFFERING – May I ask for a little indulgence? Today, I celebrate my 55th birthday, so please say a little prayer for my health and my ministry as a priest.
Everywhere I go, groups ask me about my personal journey and my vocational journey in the Society of St. Paul. I tell them my mother possesses the greater vocation for the priesthood. Had the Church allowed female priests, surely my mom would have sought admission for seminary formation. It was from her that I took on my attraction for the church.
Our Gospel reading today is personally meaningful for me. It is the Gospel proclaimed every December 29, my birthday. When I got baptized on February 2, 1962, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, at the parish church of Paco where the secondary patroness is Our Lady of the Presentation (“La Candelaria”), the Gospel for the Mass, of course, was St. Luke’s account of the Presentation of Jesus. My mother and baptismal godmother, also a religious woman, took all these things surrounding my special days as some heavenly indicators. With the permission of the priest who baptized me, they literally presented me by placing me on the altar for some prayerful moments. And the rest is a continuing story of my life.
We, Filipinos, have a very strange and unfounded practice during baptismal rites of children. Right when the rite is over, parents and grandparents race with the newly baptized children to the church door. They believe that such a practice would determine the economic advantages of the child. So, the race, as life is indeed a rat race!
Let me suggest something more biblical than superstitious. Let us imitate Joseph and Mary and offer the newly baptized children in the pattern of Jesus who was totally dedicated and destined for the accomplishment of God’s will in His earthly life. Let parents and godparents do what my mom and godmother did for me. After baptism, let us bring the child to the altar, where all the blessings flow, where they learn to be close to the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP
REFLECTION QUESTION: How many children do you have as a godparent in baptism, in confirmation, in nuptials? Try to recall them and make a list. Include them regularly in your prayers.
I lift up to You, Lord God, all my godchildren. May they follow Your will for them. Amen.
1 Jn 2: 3-11; Lk 2: 22-35
Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple
Mother Mary went to Jerusalem Temple in humble obedience of the Law to submit to the ritual of purification on the 40th day after the birth of Jesus and to present him in the Temple by the offerings required by the poor â€“ two turtle doves or young pigeons.
The presentation was followed by the prophetic utterance of Simeon who took infant Jesus in his arms and said, â€œThis is the light which shall give revelation to the Gentiles, and he is the glory of the people of Israel… And a sword shall pierce your heart.â€ (Lk. 2: 32-38)
When we hold the lighted candles in our hands, we proclaim our commitment to bring Jesus, the Light of the World to the unbelievers by our inspiring life witness.
Mary could feel the pain of others:
Only those who have extraordinary inner light can recognize the wounds of others. Simeon could see the wound in Maryâ€™s heart. He said, â€œA sword shall pierce you heartâ€. Mary could feel the anxiety and pain of Elizabeth as well as the embarrassment and humiliation of a family at Cana which was unable to serve wine to its guests. She found an alternative. She could remove the pain of the wounds of others. It is with this sensitivity that she accompanied Jesus in the path of the Cross. To gather extraordinary inner light, one has to enter the Temple of God and stay in Godâ€™s presence in prayer. Only then can one see the wounds of others and console them saying, â€œDo not weepâ€.
Jesus, a sign of contradiction (Lk. 2: 31-35):
Godâ€™s salvation is meant for all â€“ Jews and Gentiles, Christians and people of other faith. Godâ€™s gift of himself in Jesus Christ should reach out to all people as a gift. Jesus born in Bethlehem is the good news of great joy. But the same child is presented by Luke also as a sign of contradiction. Jesus should be seen in the light of his mission and destiny. To accept child Jesus would also imply the acceptance of the sword which will pierce the soul.
His Mission also involves the Cross:
We will fall if we are controlled by our selfishness. We will rise if we join our hands with him in his mission of self-giving. This will involve accepting suffering and cross and accepting pain of self-transcendence as demanded by the word of God. â€œFor the word of God is living and active, sharper than two-edged sword, piercing the soul of the joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4: 12). Fr. Shepherd Thelapilly CMI
December 29, 2016
Today’s gospel reading presents us with what our text describes as being “a very upright and devout man named Simeon,” and it adds, “the Holy Spirit was upon him.” So we are not talking of a priest or a Levite, of a prophet or ascetic, we are talking about an ordinary man, probably married and having children. But the difference with Simeon is that, as the gospel text tells us “he had been assured by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah”. What does that mean “he was assured?” By a vision? Probably not, because such an event would be recorded here. So, by what? Presumably by a deep inner conviction, as in the case of the Spirit’s motion in us. So here we have a man convinced that one day he would see the Messiah.
And the years pass. But nothing happens. He goes to the temple every day, despite the bad weather and his occasional bad health. People begin to laugh at him. Sometimes he begins to doubt: maybe he had imagined the whole miserable business? Yet, Simeon, an old man now, keeps going to the temple every day—until his faithfulness is rewarded.
Doubts should never stop us.
Back to: December 29