Thursday, 2 February 2017 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast in honour of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, in the Temple of God in Jerusalem. Traditionally, this is also the end of the Christmas season, occurring forty days after the celebration of the Nativity, from which date the timing of this feast is calculated.

On this day, we also pray for the sake of all those who have given themselves to the Lord as religious brothers and sisters, and as all those who have committed themselves to the holy priesthood, everyone who have given themselves to the service of God and His people, because they have been united to the Lord Jesus, our one and only true High Priest.

In the first reading today, taken from Book of the prophet Malachi, we heard of the proclamation of the coming of God’s salvation, the promise of the Saviour Who would come to bless the people of God, Who will refine all of them to be pure and glorified in His presence, that all of them will be like the sons of Levi, who have been appointed in accordance to the laws of Moses, to be priests of God’s people.

In this we see the works of God, the Eternal High Priest for all mankind, the One Who had come into this world, to bring unto all the ultimate and best offering of all, by offering Himself on the cross, so that on our behalf, Jesus had purified us and made us whole once again, delivering us from our troubles and from all the darkness that had once subjugated us. We have been brought from the darkness and into the light.

Today, all of us celebrate the moment when Jesus was offered to God as the firstborn Son, as a remembrance of the time of the Exodus. According to the tradition and the Law, all firstborn child of Israel must be offered to God, as a symbolic remembrance of the time when the Lord took away their punishment and changed it into liberation and freedom. What does this mean, brethren? In order to understand this, we will have to look into the events that took place around the first Passover.

At that time, the Pharaoh and the Egyptians refused to let the people of Israel go, and they refused to let them free from their slavery of the Israelites. The Pharaoh hardened his heart and made the Israelites to work even harder under the whip, and thus, God showed His might by sending to Egypt ten great plagues, the greatest of which was the last one.

The Pharaoh decreed that all the firstborn sons of Israel would be killed and continued to harden his heart against God. But God did not let such a punishment and intended destruction to fall against His beloved people. And thus He instructed Moses to tell the people to prepare an unblemished lamb for each families of Israel, and slaughter it on the day of salvation, the Passover day.

God passed over the houses which had been marked with the blood of the unblemished lamb of sacrifice, when He sent His Angels to destroy the firstborn of the Egyptians. The day of punishment and the day of destruction, when Pharaoh intended great harm for the Israelites, had become a day of rejoicing, of liberation and freedom. And this was what the Israelites celebrated from then on, year after year, rejoicing in God Who had liberated His people.

But mankind, God’s people had not been freed from their true afflictions, and they are still enslaved, not by any human forces or slavery, but by sin. Sin has become chains that kept us separated from God, and which has enslaved us to the forces of our human desires, our greed, and all of the temptations present in this world. The priests of Israel were incapable of redeeming the people because they themselves were also sinners, equally sinful before God and their brethren. And they offered the imperfect gifts and offerings of animal blood, which is insufficient to liberate us all from our afflictions of sin.

It is God alone Who is capable of forgiving our sins, and He Himself had taken charge of our liberation and redemption, much like how He had liberated Israel from the hands of Egypt. This time round, He liberates all of us from the chains of our sins, and brings us all to Him and to the eternal life He promises each and ever one of us who believe in Him.

But it is not something that is easily done, for the consequences of sin is death, suffering and pain. And there are just too many of us mankind, so grievous and great are our sins that we have once had no hope, for our fate would have been destruction and damnation. It was the great anguish and suffering which our Lord had endured for our sake, the pain and suffering of His cross, which had brought us all to freedom.

It was by His Precious Blood that we have been purchased, liberated and washed free from our sins. It was not an easy task, one that had burdened even the very Divine Son of God to anguish and sorrow, as He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane before His Passion, so great was the task laid before Him. And yet, He remained obedient to the very end, carrying the cross with utmost patience, and enduring every blows, spittle and insults.

Such was the great love which our God had shown us, that He was willing to endure such great troubles for our sake. And He has not stopped at that, but He gave those whom He had chosen the power and authority to extend His forgiveness and redemption to all of His people. He has called His Apostles and disciples, and gave them the power to do so. And they chose their successors and disciples in turn, our priests and bishops.

Today, let us all remember our courageous and faithful priests and bishops, all those who have given themselves and committed their lives for the Lord and for His people. They have tremendous responsibility and duty, to continue the good works which our Lord had begun. They, together with all others in the religious life and vocations had willingly devoted themselves for our sake. Let us assure them of our support and our prayers.

And last of all, let us all also renew our commitment to the Lord this day. After all, God had loved us so much that He gave us His only Son, and not just that, He even suffered for our sake, bearing all of our sins with Him, and suffering great injustice for our sake, so that by His wounds we may be healed. This is the truth which our holy priests, bishops and religious had devoted their lives to, and therefore, it is just right that we should also do our best to support them, and live a genuine, Christian life.

May the Lord bless us all today, and from now to the ends of our days, so that in every actions that we do, and in every thing we say, we must always glorify the Lord, and proclaim His love to all. Let us all be committed servants of our Lord, and bring His light to all the peoples, particularly to those who are still lost in the darkness. May God be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

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