February 02, 2011

Presentation Of Jesus In The Temple & Purification Of Mary

February 2 is another marking of the manifestation of Christ, in both the Roman and Byzantine calendars.  It used to mark the end of the Christmas season, but these days, in the secular world, it has no religious association, and in the religious world, its significance has been significantly minimized.

I know of only one place where they keep their creche up until February 2, and that is St. Benedict Abbey.

From the Melkite Greek Catholic Church web page:

This feast called "Hypapanty" (Hypapante), a Greek word meaning "meeting" is the first encounter of Jesus, our Savior, with His people. Christ comes into the midst of the temple, the gathering place of all the people of God and even of some Gentiles assembled to pray and to fulfill the laws of God handed down by Moses. Jesus, too, wishing to be like us in all things, save sin, that He might sanctify every aspect of human life, enters the Temple carried by His mother and accompanied by St. Joseph to make the customary offering of two turtledoves or pigeons (see Leviticus 12:2-5). Mary, the all pure Theotokos, submits to the rite of Purification as an act of obedience to the customary laws. Jesus submits to the laws of God and customs so that He might illumine all human life for He is the Sun of Justice as the Troparion of the feast declares:

Hail O Woman full of grace, Virgin and Mother of God: from you has risen the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, enlightening those who stand in darkness. You, too, just Elder Simeon, rejoice, for you carried in your arms the Redeemer of our souls, our Resurrection. (Byzantine Daily Worship, p. 627)

Simeon then prophesies "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against..." (Luke 2: 33), the fall of unbelievers and the rising of believers through the waters of baptism. Christians are people of the Resurrection and the Eastern Churches emphasize this continually by standing at the Liturgy on Sunday, which is a celebration of the Resurrection, and in the "risen" bread of the Holy Eucharist.

Yet Christ is also "a sign which shall be spoken against," a sign of contradiction through the Cross. To die on a Cross, the shame of a social outcast or a criminal, was the way Our Savior brought about our salvation. In the opposing directions of the Cross, Christ gathers all peoples without discrimination "as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings" (Luke 13: 34). Christ comes to save all, to bring us back into unity with God, without exclusion.

This feast is important today as a message of hope and a message of encouragement. In a society of instant products, faith in promises, confidence that God has a Plan and it is in progress is not easy. We need the messages of faith and hope shown in the feasts to remind ourselves that God is still in charge of the world no matter how much evil there is in it. We need the reminder that in the fullness of time God is acting. When we fail to celebrate the separate events of the journey to salvation we may miss the message. Let us therefore meet in the assembly of the Church to celebrate our unfailing hope in the promises of God: "I leave you not as orphans...We will come to him and make Our home with him...the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I have said to you" (John 14: 18, 23, 26).

The feast of St. Simeon and St. Anna is commemorated on February 3."

When I pray the fourth Joyful mystery of the Rosary, which is this Presentation, I focus on two things.  One, I ask Jesus  to make up for all that was missing in me, when my two sons were baptized, so they may live out their baptismal vows better than I have been able to, and two, I ask Jesus to purify me so I can be a better witness for Him.

May He do the same for you,

image - http://aesaintsoftheday.blogspot.com/2010/02/presentation-of-jesus-at-temple.html

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