Presentation of the Lord - Sunday, February 2, 2020

Father Fred Scinto's picture

Father Fred Scinto

January 27, 2020

The feast today shows Mary and Joseph presenting Jesus to God in the Temple after Christ’s birth.  They do so with a proper sacrifice according to their Jewish Faith by presenting their newly-born Son to God, the Source of All Life.

Recognize too that today is the World Day For Consecrated Life and Religious Life (those who take formal vows such as chastity, poverty, obedience, etc.). These Catholics challenge all of us to live as totally belonging to Jesus Christ. This is their special gift to the Church.  “Although few [of us] can spend all our days in the temple, we can live in union with the Holy Spirit in secular life.  We can make time each day to sit silently in God’s presence, longing for the fullness of that presence.”  (Glen Argan, commentator for “Presentation of the Lord” in Living With Christ, February, 2020)

In some places today, the Eucharist may begin with the blessing of candles; this is optional.  In this celebration, candles are blessed in a suitable place in the church and people proceed inside carrying a lit candle.  The point here in this part of the Liturgy is the light of God, the light of God’s glory.  This part of today’s Liturgy points us to the rest of the Eucharist: see “let us go in peace to meet the Lord” or “let us go forth in peace. In the name of Christ. Amen.” (the ending of this celebration)

Today’s Collect (or Opening Prayer) says it all for today’s Mass.  “Almighty ever-living God, we humbly implore Your majesty that, just as your Only Begotten Son was presented on this day in the Temple in the substance of Your flesh, so, by Your grace, we may be presented to You with minds made pure.”

The First Reading is from the Prophet Malachi (fifth century B.C.E.). Malachi promises that God will send a very special Person to Israel (“the messenger of the Covenant of God with Israel”).  Christians see this Person to be Jesus Christ. Note that the messenger will purify Israel before God so that they can present righteous offerings to God; this is one of the great things Christ does for us and to us.  So for us this reading strongly calls us to prepare ourselves for God’s ongoing coming to us!  Given the above, today’s Responsorial Psalm is very appropriate: “The Lord of hosts, God is King of glory.” 

Today’s Second Reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews. This letter is not easy to read or understand; so let us make this reading more understandable now.  Today’s reading makes a very important point that highlights suffering.  And it does so by centring it on Jesus Christ in a very powerful way:  “because Jesus Himself was tested by what He suffered, He is able to help those who are being tested.”  And through His own death, Christ destroys “the one who has the power of death” (Satan).  And if we unite our sufferings with those of Christ, we become the children of God and brothers and sisters to each other.  Moreover, Christ as our Brother makes a sacrifice of atonement to God for our sins and in that way helps us who are being tested by suffering.  Lastly, God makes “the source of [our] salvation perfect through sufferings.”

Today’s Gospel has some complications.  Please try the following to make It more clear for you.  Focus on the shorter version which has the Key points and which will be enough for your understanding of what the Gospel today wants to say.  Read the shorter version a number of times and then read the whole (longer) version once; finally read the shorter version one more time.  In this way you will have a good grasp of it.

Note that the Gospel selection is from Luke’s Gospel which, of all the Gospels, is the one that tries the hardest to address the needs of non-Jewish Christians.  Be sure to catch what the prophets (Simeon and Anna) say about Christ as the Messiah, the desired Saviour of the world.

The intent of the Gospel is found in today’s special Preface for this day.  “For Your co-eternal Son was presented on this day in the Temple and revealed by the [Holy] Spirit as the glory of Israel and Light of the nations.  And so, we, too, go forth to encounter Your Salvation and….praise you.” Add to this today’s Communion Antiphon (taken from Saint Luke): “my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You prepared in the sight of all the peoples.”  Finally notice the dismissal prayer today that prays “Go, and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”

After today’s Eucharist, pray that God will fill each one of us with God’s Spirit to live out our Baptism by always spreading the Good News as the Prophets Anna and Simeon did.  So be it! Deao Gratias!