Thứ Tư, 1 tháng 2, 2017

FEBRUARY 02, 2017 : FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Lectionary: 524

Reading 1MAL 3:1-4
Thus says the Lord God:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner's fire,
or like the fuller's lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Responsorial PsalmPS 24:7, 8, 9, 10
R. (8) Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD of hosts; he is the king of glory.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!

Reading 2HEB 2:14-18
Since the children share in blood and flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters
in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

AlleluiaLK 2:32
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A light of revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. 
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

"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."

The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
"Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
Band you yourself a sword will pierceB
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

or

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. 
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

"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."


Meditation: "The favor of God was upon him"
Do you know the favor of the Lord? After Jesus' birth, Mary fulfills the Jewish right of purification after childbirth. Since she could not afford the customary offering of a lamb, she gives instead two pigeons as an offering of the poor. This rite, along with circumcision and the redemption of the first-born point to the fact that children are gifts from God. Jesus was born in an ordinary home where there were no luxuries. Like all godly parents, Mary and Joseph raised their son in the fear and wisdom of God. He, in turn, was obedient to them and grew in wisdom and grace. The Lord's favor is with those who listen to his word with trust and obedience. Do you know the joy of submission to God? And do you seek to pass on the faith and to help the young grow in wisdom and maturity?
The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Savior of the world 
What is the significance of Simeon's encounter with the baby Jesus and his mother in the temple? Simeon was a just and devout man who was very much in tune with the Holy Spirit. He believed that the Lord would return to his temple and renew his chosen people. The Holy Spirit also revealed to him that the Messiah and King of Israel would also bring salvation to the Gentile nations. When Joseph and Mary presented the baby Jesus in the temple, Simeon immediately recognized this humble child of Bethlehem as the fulfillment of all the messianic prophecies, hopes, and prayers. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he prophesied that Jesus was to be "a revealing light to the Gentiles". The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Lord to those who are receptive and eager to receive him.  Do you recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord with you?
The 'new temple' of God's presence in the world
Jesus is the new temple (John 1:14; 2:19-22). In the Old Testament God manifested his presence in the "pillar of cloud" by day and the "pillar of fire" by night as he led them through the wilderness. God's glory visibly came to dwell over the ark and the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38). When the first temple was built in Jerusalem God's glory came to rest there (1 Kings 8). After the first temple was destroyed, Ezekiel saw God's glory leave it (Ezekiel 10). But God promised one day to fill it with even greater glory (Haggai 2:1-9; Zechariah 8-9). That promise is fulfilled when the "King of Glory" himself comes to his temple (Psalm 24:7-10; Malachi 3:1).  Through Jesus' coming in the flesh and through his saving death, resurrection, and ascension we are made living temples of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Ask the Lord to renew your faith in the indwelling presence of his Spirit within you. And give him thanks and praise for coming to make his home with you.
Mary receives both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow
Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph and he prophesied to Mary about the destiny of this child and the suffering she would undergo for his sake. There is a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord.  Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. She received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. But her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Jesus promised his disciples that "no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take way.  Do you know the peace and joy of a life surrendered to God with faith and trust?
The Holy Spirit renews our hope in the promise of God
Simeon was not alone in recognizing the Lord's presence in the temple. Anna, too, was filled with the Holy Spirit. She was found daily in the temple, attending to the Lord in prayer and speaking prophetically to others about God's promise to send a redeemer. Supernatural hope grows with prayer and age! Anna was pre-eminently a woman of great hope and expectation that God would fulfill all his promises. She is a model of godliness to all believers as we advance in age.  
Advancing age and the disappointments of life can easily make us cynical and hopeless if we do not have our hope rightly placed. Anna's hope in God and his promises grew with age. She never ceased to worship God in faith and to pray with hope. Her hope and faith in God's promises fueled her indomitable zeal and fervor in prayer and service of God's people. 
Our hope is anchored in God's everlasting kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy
What do you hope for? The hope which God places in our heart is the desire for the kingdom of heaven and everlasting life and happiness with our heavenly Father. The Lord Jesus has won for us a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). The Holy Spirit gives hope to all who place their trust in the promises of God. God never fails because his promises are true and he is faithful. The hope which God places within us through the gift of the Spirit enables us to persevere with confident trust in God even in the face of trails, setbacks, and challenges that may come our way. 
Is there anything holding you back from giving God your unqualified trust and submission to his will for your life? Allow the Lord Jesus to flood your heart with his peace, joy, and love. And offer to God everything you have and desire -  your life, family, friends, health, honor, wealth, and future. If you seek his kingdom first he will give you everything you need to know, love, and serve him now and enjoy him forever.
"Lord Jesus, you are my hope and my life. May I never cease to place all my trust in you. Fill me with the joy and strength of the Holy Spirit that I may boldly point others to your saving presence and words of eternal life."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersChrist who was rich became poor, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)
"For this reason it seems wonderful that the sacrifice of Mary was not the first offering, that is, 'a lamb a year old,' but the second, since 'she could not afford' (Leviticus 5:7) the first. For as it was written about her, Jesus' parents came 'to offer a sacrifice' for him,'according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."' But this also shows the truth of what was written, that Jesus Christ 'although he was rich, became a poor man' (2 Corinthians 8:9). Therefore, for this reason, he chose both a poor mother, from whom he was born, and a poor homeland, about which it is said, 'But you, O Bethlehem Ephratha, who are little to be among the clans of Judah' (Micah 5:2), and the rest. (excerpt from HOMILIES ON LEVITICUS 8.4.3)

FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, LUKE 2:22-40 or 2:22-32

(Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 24; Hebrews 2:14-18)

KEY VERSE: "For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples" (v 30-31).
TO KNOW: After the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph followed the precepts of the Mosaic Law by having Jesus circumcised on the eighth day (2:21). Then Mary spent thirty-three days in ritual purification from childbirth (Lv 12:3-4). When the days of her purification were fulfilled, the couple brought the infant Jesus to the Temple to offer the sacrifice required by the Law. Since they could not afford a lamb, they offered a pair of pigeons, the offering of the poor (Lv 12:8). In the Temple that day were Simeon and Anna, two elderly people, who faithfully awaited the deliverance of Israel. Simeon praised God for allowing him to see the "light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Lk 2:32), the one who would bring salvation to all people. Then Simeon directed his words to Mary saying that a "sword would pierce her heart" (v 35). Her deep faith could not spare her from sharing the suffering of her son. Also in the Temple that day, was Anna a devout widow who spent her days praying and fasting for the redemption of Israel. She was a "prophetess," one who interpreted God's actions in the world. Anna gave thanks to God telling everyone that deliverance would come through the child Jesus. Afterwards, Mary and Joseph returned to Nazareth where Jesus grew in age, wisdom and in the grace of God.
TO LOVE: Do I appreciate the wisdom of the elders in my community?
TO SERVE: Holy Spirit, help me to recognize the presence of the Lord in my life.

GROUND HOG DAY, FEBRUARY 2

Groundhog Day is a secular holiday brought to the United States and Canada by German immigrants. The legend of Groundhog Day is based on an old Scottish couplet: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year." Every February 2, people gather at Gobbler's Knob, just outside of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. When the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, comes out of his burrow, he looks for his shadow and If he sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, it means spring is just around the corner. Approximately 90% of the time, Phil sees his shadow. Phil started making predictions in 1887 and has become an American institution.


Thursday 2 February 2017

Thu 2nd. The Presentation of the Lord. Malachi 3:1-4. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!—Ps 23(24):7-10. Hebrews 2:14-18. Luke 2:22-40.
Readings

Gratitude for the gift.
Simeon and Anna, faith-filled, wise and respected elders in the community, recognise something extraordinary in the ordinariness of Jesus and his family. They bestow blessings and share wonder and joy at witnessing the Messiah.
How do we value our elders, those wise souls who have experienced life’s many changes and challenges, who have learnt about waiting with patience and discernment? People who appreciate small acts of humanity and still take time to notice the beauty in the everyday?
In spite of their age, the response of Simeon and Anna to Jesus’ presence seems child-like in its radiant, uninhibited joy. Theirs is not a tired cynicism wearied by a lifetime of waiting for a promise to be fulfilled. It is an enthusiastic, effusive excitement in praise of the gift of God’s son.
May we learn from the wisdom of our elders and our hearts overflow with gratitude for life’s rich and surprising gifts.

PRESENTATION OF THE LORD

At the end of the fourth century, a woman named Etheria made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her journal, discovered in 1887, gives an unprecedented glimpse of liturgical life there. Among the celebrations she describes is the Epiphany (January 6), the observance of Christ’s birth, and the gala procession in honor of his Presentation in the Temple 40 days later—February 15.
This feast emphasizes Jesus’ first appearance in the Temple more than Mary’s purification.
The observance spread throughout the Western Church in the fifth and sixth centuries. Because the Church in the West celebrated Jesus’ birth on December 25, the Presentation was moved to February 2, 40 days after Christmas.
At the beginning of the eighth century, Pope Sergius inaugurated a candlelight procession; at the end of the same century the blessing and distribution of candles which continues to this day became part of the celebration, giving the feast its popular name: Candlemass.

LECTIO DIVINA: THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD
Lectio Divina: 
 Thursday, February 2, 2017
Luke 2,22-40
The presentation of the Child in the Temple 


1. Opening prayer

O God, our Creator and Father, you willed that your Son, generated before the dawn of the world, should become a member of the human family. Rekindle in us an appreciation for the gift of life, so that parents may participate in the fruitfulness of your love, old people may pass on to young ones their mature wisdom, and children may grow in wisdom, piety and grace, all giving praise to your holy name. Through Christ our Lord.

2. Reading: Luke 2:22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law,  he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,  "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel."
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

3. A moment of prayerful silence

- that the Word of God may dwell in us and that we may allow it to enlighten our lives;
- that before we pass any comments, the very light of the Word may shine and dominate with the mystery of the living presence of the Lord.

4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.
a) Why should Jesus, Son of the Most High, and his mother Mary, conceived without sin, obey the prescriptions of Moses? Maybe because Mary was not yet aware of her innocence and holiness?
b) Is there special significance in the words and attitudes of Simeon and the prophetess Anna? Do not their actions and joy perhaps recall the style of the ancient prophets?
c) How can we explain this "sword" that pierces: is it a rending of the consciences before the challenges and richness of Jesus? Or is it only the inner pains of the Mother?
d) Can this scene mean anything to parents today: for the religious formation of their children; for the plan that God has for each of their children; for the fears and sufferings that parents carry in their hearts when they think of the time when their children grow up?

5. A key to the reading

for those who wish go deeper into the text.

a) As laid down in the law of Moses/of the Lord. This is a kind of refrain repeated several times. Luke mixes two prescriptions without making any distinction. The purification of the mother was foreseen in Leviticus (12:2-8) and was to take place forty days after the birth. Until then, the woman could not approach sacred places, and the ceremony was accompanied by the gift of a small animal. But the consecration of the first-born was prescribed in Exodus 13:11-16, and was considered a kind of "ransom" in memory of the saving action of God when he liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. For this also the offering was a small animal. In all of this scene, the parents seem to be in the process of presenting/offering their son as was done with sacrifices and Levites, while through the persons of Simeon and Anna it seems rather God who offers/presents the son for the salvation of people.

b) Simeon and Anna: these are figures full of symbolical value. Their role is one of recognition, that comes from both the enlightenment and action of the Spirit and a life lived in expectation and faith. Simeon especially is defined as prodekòmenos, that is, one entirely absorbed in waiting, and one who goes forward to welcome. He, too, appears to be obedient to the law, the law of the Spirit, who leads him towards the child in the temple. The canticle he proclaims manifests his pro-existentia, he has lived in order to come to this moment and now he withdraws so that others may see the light and the salvation to come for Israel and the pagans. Anna completes the picture, by her very age (symbolical value: 84 equals 7x12, the twelve tribes of Israel; or 84 – 7 = 77, double perfection), but above all by her way of living (fasting and praying) and by her proclamation to all who "looked forward". She is led by the Spirit of prophecy, docile and purified in her heart. Besides, she belongs to the smallest of the tribes, that of Aser, a sign that the small and fragile are those more disposed to recognise Jesus, the Saviour. Both of these old persons – who look like an original couple – are symbols of the best of Judaism, of faithful and meek Jerusalem, that awaits and rejoices and that from now on allows the new light to shine.

c) A sword will pierce: generally these words are interpreted as meaning that Mary will suffer, a drama made visible of the Our Lady of Sorrows. Rather, we need to see the Mother as a symbol of Israel. Simeon feels the drama of his people who will be deeply torn by the living and sharp word of the redeemer (cf Lk 12:51-53). Mary represents the path: she must trust, but will go through times of pain and darkness, struggles and painful silences. The story of the suffering Messiah will be painful for all, even for the Mother. One does not follow the new light of the whole world without paying the cost, without being provoked to make risky choices, without being always born again from on high and in newness. But these images of the "sword that pierces", of the child who will "trip" and shake hearts from their lethargy, are not to be separated from the meaningful action of the two old persons: the one, Simeon, takes the child in his arms to show that faith is a meeting and an embrace, not an idea of theorem; the other, Anna, takes on the role of proclaiming and enkindles a bright light in the hearts of all who "looked forward" to him.

d) Daily life, an epiphany of God: finally, it is interesting to note that the whole episode emphasises the situation of the most simple and homely: the young couple with the child in their arms; the old man who rejoices and embraces, the old lady who prays and proclaims, those listening who appear to be indirectly involved. At the end of the passage, we also get a glimpse of the village of Nazareth, of the growth of the child in a normal context, the impression of a child extraordinarily gifted with wisdom and goodness. The theme of wisdom woven into the fabric of normal life and growth in a village context, leaves the story as if in suspense, and it will be taken up again precisely with the theme of the wisdom of the boy among the doctors in the temple. Indeed, this is the episode that follows immediately (Lk 2:41-52).

6. Psalm 122

I was glad when they said to me,
"Let us go to the house of the Lord!"
Our feet have been standing within your gates,
O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem, built as a city which is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
"May they prosper who love you!
Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers!"
For my brethren and companions' sake I will say,
"Peace be within you!"
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

7. Final Prayer

Father, we praise you and we bless you because through your Son, born of woman by the working of the Holy Spirit, born under the law, has ransomed us from the law and you have filled our life with light and new hope. May our families welcome and remain faithful to your designs, may they help and sustain in their children the new dreams and enthusiasm, wrap them in tenderness when they are fragile, educate them in love for you and for all creatures. All honour and glory to you, Father.