Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which is celebrated every second day of the month of February, which is also the fortieth day after Christmas. Today, traditionally is the last day in the whole of the Christmas season, in which the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, and earlier on, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, marked the transition from the celebration of the birth and the early life of the Lord Jesus, towards His public ministry and eventually to the upcoming season of Lent preparing us for the eventual coming of Easter.
On this day we recall the moment when the Lord was brought to the Temple of Jerusalem as mandated by the Law, and offered to the Lord as the firstborn of the family. This was the day when the Lord was presented officially before His people, when the relationship between Him, as the Son of God, was presented before His Father, symbolising the mission which He was about to take upon, as the Saviour of the world and of all mankind. He was consecrated to the Lord, His heavenly Father, to become the one true High Priest of all.
All of these were mentioned in the book of the prophets of old, including the proclamation by the prophet Malachi in our first reading today, that God would send to mankind His deliverance and salvation through the High Priest He would appoint to be the Envoy and Mediator of the new Covenant He would make with His beloved people. And in the second reading today, taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Jewish Christians were reassured of the High Priesthood of Christ, the fulfilment of God’s ancient prophecies, that He would save His people, and all these had happened through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.
And the wonders of God’s mighty works lie in the very fact that He chose this way in order to save us His beloved ones, by directly embracing us with love, coming in the flesh and becoming as one of us, assuming the form and substance of Man, so that by uniting our own humanity with His, He would be able to offer the perfect sacrifice offering of love, to be the atonement for all of our sins, of the combined weight of humanity’s sins, past, present and future till the end of time. He did this, by becoming the High Priest Who redeemed us, once and for all by His loving sacrifice on the cross.
In order to understand and appreciate the significance of this event better, we must understand the role of the priesthood in the ancient Israel, where priests had been chosen from among the descendants of Aaron of the tribe of Levi. The priests were entrusted with the role of intermediary between God and His people, to be the ones who would bring God’s people back towards Him, by the offering of sacrificial offerings, the blood of animals, of goats, lambs and pigeons.
And there was, in Christ, a far greater, more worthy and more wonderful sacrifice and offering, the offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, acting by Himself as the High Priest, offering those worthy offerings for the atonement of all of our sins, of mankind throughout all time and ages. He established therefore a new Covenant between God and us mankind, sealed not in the blood of lambs and imperfect animals, but with His own Most Precious Blood, the Blood of the Lamb of God.
Today, as we recall the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple of Jerusalem, we are looking towards the Lord’s role in our salvation, remembering how our one and true High Priest laid Himself on the altar of the cross, bearing all the multitudes of our sins and impurities, our iniquities and unworthiness, so that by His perfectly selfless and loving action, all of us who place our trust and faith in Him may be saved, by our faith in Him.
We recall the love that He has for each and every one of us, that He was willing to endure such pain and suffering for our sake. He endured all the wounds and troubles for the sake of our salvation. Every single wounds that have been inflicted on the Lord are caused by the sins we have committed, whenever we have caused suffering on others, or because of our selfishness and greed that lead us ever deeper into the chasm of wickedness and sin.
But the Lord loved us so much, that He gave us the gift of His Son, our High Priest and Saviour, through Whom we have received the opportunity to achieve redemption and eternal life. And this He has extended to us through His priesthood, the ministerial priesthood that He has established within His Church, to become in His persona, the intermediary between us and God. He called those whom He deemed to be worthy, to become His priests, bishops and all those ordained to the holy orders, to offer at the celebration of the Holy Mass, the same sacrifice He has done at Calvary.
Through our priests and all those who have been consecrated to God, including all those who have devoted themselves to the religious life and life dedicated to God’s glory, we have seen the light of Christ in our midst, despite all the darkness of mankind’s sins and iniquities. Through the examples and perseverance of all those who have lived their lives with faith, imitating Christ’s own obedience and loving sacrifice, we have seen the light of our salvation, and have hope in us.
There are also many of those who have also dedicated themselves to a life of prayer, prayers dedicated to many of us, and to holy life that brings about much inspiration to the rest of us the faithful people of God. They have followed the example and commitment of Christ, and become inspiration to us all. They spent their days and time in prayer, and go about everything in life, centering themselves so completely on God.
That is why, today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must spend time to pray, and not just today, but each and every days from now on, for those who have dedicated themselves to the Lord and lived a consecrated life in God. We should give our full support and also encouragement to them, for indeed, as difficult as our faith life may be, with all of the temptations and challenges, they have even more difficulties in all of them.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us all renew our commitment to love and serve the Lord with zeal, courage and faith, especially because of the wonderful love that He has shown us all. Let us all heed His call, and do our best in whatever we do, in order to do His will and devote ourselves to His cause. And let us continue to support the efforts and good works of the Church, particularly those who have been called to the holy orders and consecrated life. May God bless us all. Amen.