THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD (Feast) White
First Reading: Mal 3:1-4; Psalm: 24. R. v. 10bc; Second Reading: Heb 2:14-18; Gospel: Lk 2:22-40
CHRIST THE LIGHT OF THE NATIONS
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
The feast of the presentation of the Lord is a feast that occurs forty days after the birth of Christ. It is also a day the Church celebrates the purification of Mary because today Mary completes her forty days of staying out of the temple after the birth of Christ as was prescribed in Leviticus chapter twelve. And was to undergo a ritual purification either with a lamb or two turtle doves. This feast is also known as “Candlemas” because the celebration includes a candle procession which signifies ‘Christ the light of the nation’ as prophesied by Simeon who referred to Christ as the “Light to the Gentiles.”
The first reading of today from the prophet Malachi says: “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.” John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy. His coming was followed by the coming of Christ who came in flesh and blood as recounted in the second reading. Christ came this way so that “. . . through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” So indeed, Christ was the Light casting out the darkness of sin and death.
Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus to the temple following the precepts of the Mosaic Law by offering the sacrifice prescribed for the poor – two turtle doves. The presentation signifies Christ’s entrance to his temple. God made man entered his temple, presenting himself to those who were really searching for him. He came to take possession of the temple and to inaugurate the coming of the New Temple.
The coming of Christ into the temple inaugurated a new temple and a new era. His coming was indeed a contradiction to the world because as the Light, Christ confronted the dark places of our lives through his teachings by challenging our selfish and sinful ways. The feast of the presentation therefore reminds us that we are called to be channels of Christ’s light so that together we can dispel the darkness of sin in our world today.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, the Light of the nations, dispel from us the darkness of sin. Amen.