Sunday, February 2, 2020

Reflection for Today's Mass

Taken from A Catholic Moment;

Today God enters the Temple ‘to make himself impure’ in order to make us pure. He is the light that has arisen in the midst of the darkness that covered humanity.
The first reading announced his coming into his Temple.The Gospel showed him present in his Temple and the Second reading affirms that he has entered the Temple as High Priest to offer sacrifice for the expiation of the sins of his brethren.

FIRST READING: Malachi 3:1-4
The prophet Malachi lived during the Post-babylonian exilic era. The people had finished the reconstruction of the Temple of Jerusalem as they were instructed by God through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Haggai 1:1-11). But times and Seasons kept coming and going without the fulfillment of the promises of Yahweh especially the ones given in the Deutro-Isaiah (Isaiah chapters 40-55). They were waiting expectantly for the return of the glory of Yahweh in His Temple now that the Temple it set (516-515 BC). And what of the promises made about Jerusalem that it will be overflowing with prosperity (Zachariah. 1:17; Haggai 2:6-7). So it is in the midst of this endless waiting that the people began to place doubts on the truth of the prophecies and on the love of God towards them.Their attitude towards the Temple worship changed. Many resolved to offering blemished animals forbidden by Yahweh for sacrifices (Ex 12:5; Lev 22: 20), and were withholding the offering of their first fruits ‘Tithes’ (Mal 3:9-10). The men were engaging in divorce because of their desires to marry foreign women (Mal 2:16). There was high rate of corruption among religious leaders.
It is in the midst of this atmosphere that the prophecy of Malachi was born, and today the prophet broke the longtime silence of Yahweh by assuring the people that the Lord whom they have been seeking will soon come to his Temple (Mal 3:1); the Hebrew “Shekinah” which means ‘dwelling’ or ‘settling’ of the Lord among his people. But the prophet made it clear that the arrival of Yahweh will be followed by purification of the city and the people from every form of corruption so that they like burnt offering will be acceptable to him.
In the last verse of this last chapter of the prophecy of Malachi the Lord promised to send the prophet Elijah to precede His eventual manifestation. The gospels showed John the Baptist as the new Elijah and today the evangelist Luke shows that the Lord has finally entered his Temple; a fulfilment of the old prophecy of Malachi

SECOND READING: Hebrews 2:14-18
The letter to the Hebrews tells us that “He (Jesus) had to be made like his brethren in every respect so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest. The author connects his audience to the prophecy of Malachi today affirming that Christ is that pure sacrifice pleasing to God, and he is a Priest like his breathing but without corruption like the sons of Levi that will have to be purified (Mal 3:4). His own priesthood does not just consist in the offering of sacrifices to the Father but a total offering of himself to death on the Cross-the only way through which he has destroyed the devil and set free those whom the devil subjected to bondage.

GOSPEL: Luke 2:22-40
“The Lord whom you seek will soon come to His Temple.” Today this prophecy of Malachi has been fulfilled as the Lord enters the Temple of Jerusalem of which this prophet spoke of.
Following the prescriptions of the Torah, today we commemorate the Feast of purification and redemption as accomplished by Mary and Joseph.
Why purification? In the book of Leviticus (12: 2-8) Yahweh commands that a woman who bore a child will remain unclean until after forty days (although Mary by have vocation as the mother of God was exempted from this law but she chose to subject herself to the prescribed norms). Why redemption? The book of Exodus (13:12-13) instructs that every first born male belongs to Yahweh and must be set apart for Him. The law further says in the book of Numbers (18:15-16) that this child is redeemable by the parents through the offering of lamb, and in the case of the poor a pair of turtledoves as sacrifice in the tabernacle of meeting (Leviticus 12:4-6). Although in the case of the child Jesus everything was just for a ritual fulfilment: he does not need to be redeemed like all the other male children because he belongs totally to God, and unlike others he was not presented to God in the Temple but it is God Himself who is presenting Him to the world as the light of Salvation.
In the Eastern Church this Feast was called Hypapante (Greek) a feast of encounter. In fact, Simeon and Anna, who met Jesus in the Temple and recognized him as the Messiah so long awaited, represent humanity that encounters its Lord in the Church (when Luke mentions the old age of Simeon and Anna, he symbolically communicates how long humanity has longed to meet the Lord; a humanity that has grown old in the course of waiting for the manifestation of the Lord. However, the joy of Simeon is an expression that humanity has not known joy before now; only God can bring about true happiness). Subsequently, this Feast also spread to the Western Church, where above all the symbol of light and the procession with candles gave it the name “Candlemas.” This visible sign is intended to mean that the Church encounters in faith the One who is “the light of men” and in order to bring this “light” into the world, receives him with the full dynamism of her faith.

In his Gospel, Luke is much more open. The presence of Anna in the Temple is a sign of the value the evangelist attached to women as against manish culture of his time. Simeon and Anna were able to meet the baby Jesus because they were holy, and they placed themselves where the Lord could meet them. Many of us are still hiding away from God. We allow the type of life we live to block the Lord from meeting us. We cannot have personal encounter with the Lord when we do not desire for holiness.

When Simeon and Anna met Jesus their joy was complete. Simeon took him in his hands and blessed God. We must welcome him and bear him in our hearts today. Bearing him in our hearts makes us new creatures.

Why some of us fall prey to fear and threat from the world is because we have not truly met the Lord. Simeon was desirous to go. Even death could no longer frighten him simply because he met Jesus. When Jesus becomes part of us then we will be able to dominate the world.

Simeon and Anna were led by the Holy Spirit to encounter the Lord. We need to undergo life in the Spirit where we will be opened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us to recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord with us. Only the Holy Spirit can lead the way.

This is the central message of this day. God has given us his son as light in our world of darkness. If we truly desire true happiness in our hearts, in our relationships, in our families and in our societies, we must not be scared of his light. We must not block his light. Let his light penetrate our lives and expose the dark side of us and make us true sons and daughters of God.
Lord Jesus since it has pleased you to reveal yourself as a light to your people, may you clear the darkness that enshrine our world and lead all men into the fulness of your light. Help all consecrated men and women who today renew their call to remain faithful in order to lead their brethren to you. Amen.

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