The Presentation of the Lord
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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, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord…”
Today we celebrate the presentation of our Lord in the temple. This marks our Lord’s first public appearance since his birth. So where did he decide to make his first public appearance? In a temple. In a Church.
The Church is a privileged place to encounter God. And we are blessed to have him there. Simeon, a righteous and devout man, spent his life at the temple awaiting the appearance of the Lord. Anna, a prophetess, spent her life worshipping day and night at the temple in anticipation for the coming of the Lord. The temple – the Church – is the privileged place to encounter the Lord.
We need to go to Church. We need to spend quality time with the Lord, especially because we live in a world surrounded by chaos and very negative people. We need a place where we can gather together with family, friends and strangers and left up our heart to the Lord. I have heard far too often people say to me, “Father, I don’t go to Church because it is full of hypocrites!” “That’s not true!”, I say, “We still have a lot of empty seats available for you.”
We are all hypocrites! As soon as we open up our mouths and say we are Christians we are being hypocrites. But, interestingly enough, as soon as I say I am a sinner, then it means I have taken one important step – one giant leap – to being a saint.
We need to go to Church because we need help. We need help in admitting our guilt and that our sins were “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” We need to go to Church because we need encouragement and strong motivation. If it weren’t for the All Saints community, I don’t think I would ever make it on time for the 6:30 am Mass. If it weren’t for their dedication and fervor, I don’t think I would say awake during the 6:30 am Mass. The community needs me and I need them. We need each other. We need God.
We (and especially our kids) need to go to Church to see the poor, the elderly, the sick and the crippled. Our kids need to see the sick when they complain they are tired; or when they complain they feel weak; or when they whine that their knees hurt. We need the Church.
We have to be very careful not to treat the Church like the doctor’s office; that we go only when we are in excruciating pain or once a year. That’s not good. We need to go frequently.
We have to be careful not to treat Confession like going to the dentist, where confessing our sins is like getting our teeth pulled. We need to go before the pain begins; before the damage is done; before their is decay.
Let us present ourselves to the Lord as He presented Himself to the Father: in His Father’s house. May the Lord find us in prayer and fasting.
Christ did not need to be dedicated or baptized. He did not even need to become human! But He did, and He did it all for us. In fact, He even suffered for us, and “because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested” (Heb. 2:18).
We need the Church to get through tough times and tough people. We need the Lord to get through anything and everything! The Church is a privileged place to encounter the Lord. It is where we can gather strength and wisdom.
What happened to Christ once he left the temple? “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and the favor of God was upon Him.” (0)