The Presentation of the Lord
Mal 3:1-4 + Heb 2:14-18 + Lk 2:22-40
February 2, 2018
“… for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples….”
Today’s feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple might seem a little off kilter. After all, the Church’s season of Christmas ended some weeks ago, but today we celebrate another mystery of Jesus’ early life. February 2nd falls forty days after Christmas Day, creating an obvious parallel to the Resurrection and Ascension. Nonetheless, no matter how long Christmas lasts, today’s feast points our attention towards the giving of presents.
Just as the name of today’s feast is the “presentation” of the Lord, the meaning of the feast shows that the Lord is a present to be given to others. On the one hand, God the Father gave His only Son as a present to the human family. But on this feast of the Presentation, we see humans giving this present of Jesus to others, both back to God and to other humans.
For Joseph and Mary this presentation was what we in our day might call a supreme act of stewardship: they recognized that not only were their time, talent, and treasure from God, but their first-born son as well. The gift of human life, like a marriage between a man and a woman, only exists through the grace of God. As an act of stewardship, then, Mary and Joseph present their new-born son back to God, recognizing that God is the ultimate Father of Jesus.
Joseph and Mary’s presentation of Jesus to God the Father was a sacrifice not offered only once. Joseph and Mary continually offered this sacrifice as Jesus continued to grow. When Jesus was twelve and Joseph and Mary lost and then found Jesus in the Temple teaching the scribes, Jesus expressed little concern about their worry. He asked them, “Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” This was not callousness on the part of Jesus, but a call for Mary and Joseph to recognize that as parents, they were not the ultimate meaning of their child’s life.
But even that event of the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, as much as it may have initially shaken Mary and Joseph, was almost nothing in comparison to the event that would take place on the Cross on Calvary some twenty years later. It is there, on Calvary, that the greatest presentation took place: one to which we join our own selves through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.