2 February – Feast of The Presentation of The Lord
(and World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life)
Dear Readers, today we have a guest contributor, Heng San San, who shares with us her maiden reflection piece on this Feast Day. San San is curious about the OXYGEN ministry and what it entails. We hope that her reflections will help us to see with new eyes the wonders of our Lord Jesus Christ!
As always, OXYGEN welcomes our readers (and those who know someone) who have the gift of writing, to come forth and volunteer your time and love to share with us how God has touched you through Holy Scripture. Do write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know of your interest. We will get in touch with you. This New Year, perhaps you would like to share OXYGEN with friends by alerting them to our e-newsletter subscription.
This feast celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Presentation is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is one of the twelve Great Feasts. In many Western liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season.
This feast is also known by other traditional names including Candelmas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord. Prior to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Candlemas marked the end of the Christmas and Epiphany season.
The Western term ‘Candlemas’ (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on Feb 2 (forty days after Christmas) blessed beeswax candles with an aspergilium (liturgical implement used to sprinkle holy water) for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home.
Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this feast has been referred to as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, with references to candles and the purification of Mary de-emphasized in favour of the Prophecy of Simeon the Righteous. Pope John Paul II connected the feast day with the renewal of religious vows.
The Lord God says this: Look, I am going to send my messenger to prepare a way before me. And the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple; and the angel of the covenant whom you are longing for, yes, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts. Who will be able to resist the day of his coming? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire and the fullers’ alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will then be welcomed by the Lord as in former days, as in the years of old.
Since all the children share the same blood and flesh, Christ too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could take away all the power of the devil, who had power over death, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself descent from Abraham. It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins. That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.
When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:
‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’
As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’
There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.
… she gave thanks to God.
At the end of 2015, I was approaching the new year with much hope and fervour. I had an urgent sense to evangelise, and an emboldened call to be courageous. And yet, within the first week of the new year, several incidents conspired to deflate these aspirations too quickly.
Most times, our well-intentioned resolutions hinge on the need to have greater willpower to achieve them – more prayer time, more exercise, more healthy eating … and yet deepening our lives in Christ and through Christ is less about hoping to exert our own willpower, but about handing our wills over to God in surrender and trust that He leads us where He wills. When we realize that everything we have comes from God – our lives, talents, families, friends and ministry, and that we can choose our responses to these gifts on a daily basis, we shift from a mindset of relying on self to relying on the Other. With surrender comes gratitude. Gratitude naturally moves towards generosity and magnanimity. We shift from self to the other. Isn’t gratitude then central to prayerful living, and what we are called to as Christian witnesses?
When we have an attitude of gratitude, we see all situations, particularly challenging ones, with new eyes. We move from querulous ruminations to an immense awareness of the Gift-giver in all circumstances. We become grateful for clean water on tap, the ability to worship freely, family members who have become fragile and dependent, difficult work mates and supervisors, and the hot sun blazing through clear skies. We respond by remembering what is important, constantly aligning our priorities with those of God our Creator and Loving Father, so that He always shapes how we live, and how we love.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Heng San San)
Prayer: Lord, help me to see everything with new eyes, to relish all that is Yours, and to respond always with a spirit of gratitude and love. Grace me to infect others whom you place in my life journey with a deep awareness of Your Goodness and gifts. Help me to do Your will always. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Loving Father, I thank You for loving me. Thank you for allowing me to return to you time and again with my imperfections and brokenness. I will never fathom the depth of your love for me in this lifetime, but I seek only to praise and glorify you with all that I am and all that I seek to become, in and through Your Son Jesus and my Lord.