The readings for the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus leave no doubt about the parameters of the One who enters the world’s stage by being presented in the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus has come to “destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…”
The first reading from Malachi sets the tone for the feast. He begins: “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.”
Even though the Jews were awaiting the Messiah, the popular mindset wasn’t prepared for the Messiah to be born a helpless child. In the popular mindset, the Messiah was expected to appear in the temple area, manifesting repeated victories over the foes of the Israelites. They didn’t understand the nature of His spiritual calling — to die on the cross to defeat Satan, the enemy of God.
Malachi continues: “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…”
The image of purifying silver is often used as a metaphor for spiritual purification. Silver ore is placed in an intense fire, so that all the ore melts. The dross floats to the top, and the skilled silversmith ladles it off until he can look into the pure silver and see his face reflected clearly. So also, with the human spirit. The truth of God’s word confronts the darkness of the human spirit. When this happens, we have the clear choice of allowing the truth of God’s word to replace the lies we have absorbed over the years.
Since we have become accustomed to the darkness, we are attached to it. There is pain in letting go of our attachments. Every time we say yes to the truth of God’s word, we are relieved of the pain of darkness, and it’s replaced with Gospel joy. Divine purification is truly a very holy process.
The author of Hebrews tells us, “Since the children share in the 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.” When Jesus took on our flesh and blood in the womb of Mary, and submitted Himself to crucifixion in obedience to the will of the Father, then rose from the dead, He defeated Satan, sin and death. He enabled us to live in union with Him and the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The author continues, “Because He Himself was tested through what He suffered, He is able to help those who are being tested.” What great consolation it is to know that Jesus was tested as we are and therefore knows the sufferings that come from the sins of mankind. This enables us to see Jesus’ great compassion on the sinners which He met every day in His public ministry and the great compassion He has for us in our struggles with sin.
The Gospel is filled with one prophecy after another, and Mary is taking in all the revelation that is offered. First, we hear of Simeon, a very holy and devout man, “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.”
At this stage Mary is all ears. “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 peoples; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.’”
What was happening inside of Mary? “The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about Him…” However, Simeon is not finished with his prophecy! Simeon said to Mary, “Behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted — and you yourself a sword will pierce — so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Where the prophet Simeon leaves off, the prophetess Anna picks up. A holy woman who spent most of her life in the temple praying: “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.”
Would you not like to spend the evening with Simeon and Anna to find out more about what they know about this child? Why not do it? Take the words they said to quiet prayer and listen what the Holy Spirit reveals to you about this child within you! There is a lot of revelation awaiting you if you simply do what Simeon and Anna did. Listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit who is just waiting to speak to you! This could be life changing!