A time of transition
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. (Luke 2:22)
February is a month of transitions. We enter into late winter, later transitioning into early spring. The barren trees still catch the snow as if displaying for us proof of winter’s presence. The Church transitions from ordinary time to Lent, and we prepare to take into our hearts the profundity and significance of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection.
The Church begins our month of transition by celebrating the return of God to the temple. The presentation of Jesus, the Christ child, to the temple is the return of God’s living presence which had been absent since the Ark of the Covenant was taken. Image this:
Ark of the Covenant: also known as the Ark of Testimony, containing relics of God’s testimony to the Israelites. It contained within the tablets of the 10 commandments, the bread of presence (manna), and Aaron’s staff, which God had made blossom to show the rebellious Israelites who they were to obey (Numbers 16-17). Above the Ark was the Oracle, the seat from which God’s presence resided and spoke to the high priest. It represented God’s presence in their midst; it was their security and safety.
Ark of the New Covenant: In her heart and her body, Mary contained the fullness of God’s testimony to His people: Jesus. He is the Word (10 commandments), the bread of presence (Eucharist) and the high priest (Aaron’s staff). Now being held by her on the outside of the ‘Ark’, the real presence of God sits upon the Ark. The rabbis of those times believed the Ark would be found at the coming of the Messiah. Mary, bringing Jesus into the temple for her purification and to present Him to God, returned God to His people.
The Presentation, in a way, was a point of transition for the ancient Jews as well, although only Simeon and Anna were given the ‘eyes’ to see this.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.
–The Jesus Prayer
Just as the ancient Jews, too often we regress into old habits or sinful ways. Reject these temptations in His name, turn to Him with a contrite heart, and ask Him to fill that fault in your soul with His Spirit. If your heart and mind return to it or dwell on it, say His name repeatedly as His name is the most powerful name in the Heavens, on the earth, and beneath the earth. He is by our side always, waiting for us to turn to Him.
Jesus existed before the creation of the cosmos and by His Word all that is came into being. He accompanied the Israelites wandering in the desert, and now has returned to accompany us this day and every day. This is His very wish for us: that having been consecrated to the Father through Him, we will be with Him for eternity. All we need do is accept our Baptismal consecration and let Him lead us on this path to eternal life.
O most faithful Saint Joseph, who shared the mysteries of our redemption, the prophecy of Simeon, touching the sufferings of Jesus and Mary, caused you to shudder with mortal dread but at the same time filled you with a blessed joy for the salvation and glorious resurrection that would be attained by countless souls. By this sorrow and this joy, obtain for us that we may be of the number of those who, through the merits of Jesus and the intercession of Mary the Virgin Mother, are predestined to a glorious resurrection. Amen. (St. Josemaria Institute, Seven Sorrows Devotion to St. Joseph)
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
(Image by Guercino from National Gallery London)
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