February 2: Presentation of the Lord. Readings: 1. Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm: 24; 2.Hebrews 2:14-18; Gospel: Luke 2:22-40.
This feast day observance brings to our attention the Lord’s own special place in the faith we profess week after week.
With the reading from Malachi, we hear a text that sits at the very end of the Old Testament collection of inspired writings. In our Bibles, therefore, it is a kind of stepping stone into the New Testament. And so the prophet’s words selected for today’s celebration work well to introduce the thought that there will soon appear one who will be offered up to God on behalf of us all. Also, reference to the presentation of offerings in Jerusalem signals a future event when God’s own agent will come setting things right for everyone.
What the author of Hebrews has to say today indicates rather precisely just how Jesus would bring God’s plan to fulfilment. Being born as one like us and experiencing our human life in all its elements, Jesus is decreed to be the perfect high priest, offering himself to atone for the sins of all humanity. Remembering his great sacrificial gift to us is therefore naturally part of the faith we profess publicly.
Luke’s description of Jesus’ presentation in the Jerusalem temple highlights the special nature of the place itself and offers a true feel for what the young child will become as the Gospel narrative progresses. Simeon and Anna recognise in this little child the great gift that he is for Israel and all humanity. What is foreseen is quite extraordinary; a source of immense joy tinged with a necessary sadness. That is to be embraced as Good News for all the world to hear.
Our celebration of this feast reminds us that we are blessed beneficiaries of the divine saving plan. Faith given explicit expression in the context of our Church community is fitting witness to this key idea.