Be purified before God

Gospel Reflection

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, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he 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.”

Today we celebrate the feast of our Lord’s Presentation in the Temple.

It came to be known as Candlemas, when in the middle of the fifth century, the faithful started to light candles to symbolize Christ who is the light of the world. The celebration is one of the earliest celebrated in the church, dating back to the 4th century in Jerusalem, according to church records with many bishops of the church to as far as Methodius who died in 312 giving a sermon on the feast.

This is the Presentation of Jesus, and in our readings, in the Gospel of Luke we see Jesus being presented in the temple as the first born of Mary and Joseph. This usually happens 33 days after the circumcision of the first born son. But we also come to know of this feast as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as, according to Jewish law, as stated in Leviticus 12, a woman who have given birth must purify herself after 40 days by offering a lamb as a burnt offering and a pigeon or a dove as sin offering. But if they could not afford a lamb, then two doves or pigeons can be brought to the temple. The fact that this was the offering that the Holy Family brought to the temple shows that they were indeed poor.

So what is our readings telling us today? What is the Word of God asking from us today? What is the significance of this feast in our time of natural calamities, volcanic eruption, 2019-nCoV or novel coronavirus, of social media explosions, of worsening economic inequality?

Do you know that the 20 richest in the Philippines own more than the poorest 62 million Filipinos? That is such a scandal, but what do we do? What can we do?

More than our personal sins are our social sins. These are the sins that we commit collectively, as a community. When we forget the needs of our less fortunate brothers and sisters, when we take advantage of a calamity for profit like selling masks at a ridiculously high price, when we do not respond to the needs of people in calamity areas, like that of the recent Taal Volcano eruption, and instead take advantage of the situation and make money from it or using it to promote our own interests, that is a social sin. When we continue on voting for people whom we know is corrupt and would just end up killing people including innocent children and elderly, that is social sin.

Our readings for today, most especially our Gospel reading according to Luke, tell us to purify ourselves from these sins. To be clean as we present ourselves to God. Our sacrifice has already been offered and everytime we participate in the celebration of the mass we witness this sacrifice again and again. We are reminded that Christ showed us the way by dying for our sins, by becoming the innocent sacrifice, who had to carry our sins for us.

So, now, brothers and sisters, let us be reminded of the love of God for us, by allowing himself to be the sacrifice that would set us free, if only we would look at the light and allow it to guide us. The light that would make clear to us, on who is the King of Glory – the Lord of Hosts whose strength and might is that of our weakness, of our frailty as human beings. Our suffering, our pain, which He himself suffered and experienced when he shared in our humanity. Our capacity to love and to give ourselves for our neighbors who are in need. This is our continuing challenge as everyday we face the challenges of a world dictated by the evils of self-interest and a consumeristic, capitalistic, profit-oriented economy.


Popular Posts