By: Marilyn Gawlik, OFS, Gwen Franus, OSF and Carolyn Barth, OFS
As we meditated on the presentation of Jesus in the temple we realized the fact that this was the fulfillment of the long awaited prophecy of Malachi 3: 1-4, from the Mass of the day:
“And suddenly there will come to the temple, the LORD whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming. Who can stand when he appears?” In this baby, Mary and Joseph, joined miraculously by Simeon and Anna, recognize that this is the great Lord, majestically entering His temple for the first time.
Then Simeon adds his own prophecy:
“…My eyes have seen your salvation,…a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel…Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted…and (to His mother) you yourself a sword will pierce—so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
So Mary’s sword-pierced heart lays bare the intentions of our own hearts; do we stand with Jesus, the Lord of the temple and the sign of contradiction, or do we oppose Him? The time of Lent gives us the opportunity to take an even firmer stand with Jesus, in our daily penance and conversion. If we do so we become not hearers of the word alone but doers, graspers, appliers and bearers of the Word like Mary, whose constant “Fiat” is not shaken by the frightening vision of Simeon, or by anything else that comes her way.
This feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, bridges the gap between the celebrations of the Nativity with the Lenten season. So too, what we learned here, encourages us to move forward from our first encounters with Jesus to a point where, with the grace of God, we can make meaningful changes in our lives as we consider His mother and the words of Simeon that struck her heart.
Let us go forth with the joy of the Lord as we share the Glory of the Most High. Let us bring the joy of the Lord to the world. This Lent let us believe and share Isaiah 51:11: “The redeemed of the Lord shall return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.”
Let us pray: Lord, we ask You, how do You want us to make this Lent different so that it will make us different? Lord, as we fast forward with You and Your Mother into Your Passion, Crucifixion and Death, help us to be with You and to be true to everything You taught us, so that we would not be only hearers but also doers of the word of God, bearers of You who are the Word of God. May the hearts of all of us be laid bare so that we do pass the litmus test in the end.
We thank you, Lord. Jesus, we place our trust in You. You are the Glory of YHWH. (Prayer paraphrased from Marty Lynch, OFS)
Pax et bonum