Feast of the Presentation Homily

Statue of St. Jerome near Sheridan Circle in Washington, by Ivan Mestrovic
Statue of St. Jerome near Sheridan Circle in Washington, by Ivan Mestrovic

Every word in Sacred Scripture is precious. We do well to read the Scriptures as much as we can.

Forty days after Christ was born, our Lady and St. Joseph followed the prescription of Exodus 13:1-2: “The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “Consecrate to me every first-born that opens the womb among the Israelites, both of man and beast, for it belongs to me.”


memling-presentationWhy must the Israelites do this? We read:

“If your son should ask you later on, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall tell him, ‘With a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, that place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed every first-born in the land of Egypt, every first-born of man and of beast. That is why I sacrifice to the Lord everything of the male sex that opens the womb, and why I redeem every first-born of my sons.’ Let this, then, be as a sign on your hand and as a pendant on your forehead: with a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:14-16)

Faithful Israelites kept this law of the Old Covenant to remind themselves that they owed everything to the Lord—their land, their freedom, their nation—everything. Our Lady and St. Joseph cherished these words of Scripture. They dutifully obeyed this law.

So every word of Scripture is precious, worth reading and meditating. That said, the Scriptures provide us with some images that simply say it all. When we come across an image like this, we can put the book down, because the picture we see in our mind’s eye says everything.

Simeon the Righteous by Alexey Yegorov
Simeon the Righteous by Alexey Yegorov
When our Lady and St. Joseph brought Christ to the Temple to present Him to the Father, “[Simeon the priest] 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 the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Luke 2:27-32)

The picture of Simeon receiving the Lord Jesus in his arms and rejoicing with pure faith is an image that says everything. Simeon rejoiced because he knew by faith that his long wait was over. The Messiah had come. The day of salvation had arrived.

To imitate St. Simeon is our goal: to receive Christ into our hearts with pure faith, to rejoice that the day of salvation has come, and to rest our minds and hearts in the Good News.

Let’s put the book down for a while and savor this.

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