The Presentation of the Lord-A
Malachi 3: 1-4
Hebrews 2: 14-18
Luke 2: 22-40
The 2020 Catholic Charities Appeal will take place next weekend in the parishes of our diocese. Please see the material in this week’s bulletin.
This year’s appeal theme is “Faces of Hope.” Your generous support will help to transform the lives of others: to offer dignity, possibilities and companionship to those who are most vulnerable.
As in the past, an in-pew commitment process will take place at the Masses next weekend. So if you have not already received a mailing from Bishop Perez, please think about this week what you would like to pledge to support the ministries and services provided by Catholic Charities.
As your grateful pastor, I thank you very much for being the “Faces of Hope” for so many people who are truly in need.
This is a powerful Gospel that we have just heard. It is not just the story of Mary and Joseph and Anna and Simeon. It is also the story of our lives.
First, there are Mary and Joseph. They are coming to present the Baby Jesus to His Heavenly Father in the Temple 40 days after He was born in Bethlehem. They are people of such meager means that they bring the offering of the poor to the Temple: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons for the dedication of the Child Jesus.
And they are like so many parents who bring their children to the Church to be baptized.
What do parents wish for their children on the day of their Baptism? Happiness, health, a long life, and that they grow up to be good people and faithful Catholics. But parents also have fears. That their children be safe from harm. That they not get into trouble with alcohol, drugs, violence or sexuality. They hope that their children will never break their hearts, or ever have to go to war.
Like Mary and Joseph, parents dedicate their children to God and hope for the best for them. Yet they are aware of the real possibility that a sword of sorrow might pierce their hearts as Simeon prophesied would happen to Mary. So today is a good day to pray for all parents who feel the pain of that sword in their hearts right now.
Then there is Anna, who is eighty-four years old. She has seen it all, including the death of her husband and perhaps even one or more of her children. She lived in a time when her nation was occupied by Roman soldiers. There was political corruption, unjust taxation, payoffs, embezzlement and greed all over the place.
And yet, there was Anna: the faithful, holy woman who fasted and prayed in the Temple every day.
Today is a day to think of and thank God for the Annas of this world. They see it all, they feel it deeply, but they remain faithful. They do not avoid the public arena but try to make it better. They do not flee the Church but stay in it, praying and working for its purification and renewal. They are our hope, our anchors, our faithful ones. Let us remember and notice the Annas of our world.
And then there is elderly Simeon. He is a man on a mission, always looking, always searching, always hoping that he will not die until somehow, somewhere, sometime he might see the face of the Lord – as the Holy Spirit had promised.
Simeon is like the senior citizen facing the prospect of death and wondering if they will be seeing the face of the Lord very soon. Simeon is like the parent who has lost a child and who wonders if God is still near. Like the friend at the bedside of someone who is dying. Like the person weighed down with depression. Like the husband or wife hoping for the recovery of their spouse.
That is why Simeon is so compelling. Throughout his life he struggled and searched, prayed and pleaded for some sign of God’s presence. He did not want to die until he had a glimpse of the Lord’s face.
In today’s Gospel Simeon received that sign when he took the Baby Jesus into his arms and blessed God, saying – or perhaps even singing: “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 the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
I love this Gospel because it is my story and it is your story. But more than that, it is the Word of God and it gives us hope.
God will honor His promises. Those who are faithful to Him will see His face one day.
And we will sing again. Our lives will supply the melody. The Gospel has already supplied the words: “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 the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
And may God be praised for all of the Marys and Josephs, for all of the Annas and Simeons in our world, in our parish families, and in our lives.