Celebrating Our Own "Presentations" At Mass
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Since the outbreak from late last year and last week when this sudden accident happened, my Facebook page has been bombarded with news either about #Coronavirus that continues to plague China and now the entire world; or the news about Kobe Bryant’s passing #KobeGOAT as if the entire world mourns with the family. I think that Social Media have gone so far as to make such news as these very much accessible to the public eye (“fake news included”). But as I read through different articles about these concerns, bit by bit, I come to know more about them: Coronavirus being a long-time existing virus which comes under different strands and complications which is DEADLY by nature and Kobe Bryant not only being a Basketball legend but a devout Catholic himself! And so now, there are information which may not be that public before, but gained interest as people were “presented” with those info.
Every Christmas, God Himself walks up to us as if “presenting” Himself and asks, “Would you want to know more about me?” or “Would you like to understand me more deeply?” Each time, these questions are posed upon us, we cannot but ask similar questions we ask about the coronavirus or Kobe Bryant, “Who is this JESUS?” Well, Sacred Scripture (which existed centuries ago even before Social Media), gives us all kinds of titles and names about Him: Emmanuel – “God-is-with-us;” Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Christ the King, Jesus! In today’s Gospel describing the presentation ceremony, Simeon asks Mary with earnest devotion and curiosity: “Can I hold your baby for a few minutes, please?” and as he held the baby Jesus in his arms he asked, “Could this baby be, the man who is to bring peace and salvation to the whole world?”
Now, what has the presentation of Jesus at the Temple (4th Joyful Mystery) should mean to us?
1. Every Mass we participate in, is our “Presentation.” Yes, we were officially presented to God during our Baptism, but each time we come to Mass, we present ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through Jesus Christ. Hence, it is but right to say, that we live our daily lives with the awareness that we are dedicated people consecrated to God and that we are obliged to lead holy lives.
The call to live holy lives is not simply a call for apt the religious or the clergy. It is a universal call as I’ve pointed out in my homily during the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In fact, the universal Catholic Church reminds even priests that their primary responsibility is not just to administer the sacraments but essentially to PROCLAIM the Word of God! By proclamation we mean, not only by word but most importantly by action … by being a true witness! We have been “presented” a Messiah, who has lived by the love of His Father and has been “love” incarnate. Such love MUST also be incarnated through our life and example.
In ancient Rome in the days of Nero some poor Christian was being chased around the coliseum by a ferocious lion. The faster he ran, the faster the lion ran. Eventually, it was obvious that the end was near, so the poor fellow fell to his knees and prayed aloud, "Dear Lord, make this lion a Christian!" With that, the lion fell to his knees and began to pray, "Bless us, O Lord, and this Thy gift which I am about to receive..." The end was near! I think that, jokes aside, we need more powerful prayers such as this which could move even the most ferocious of animals! Pun intended.
2. We need the Holy Spirit to assist us to recognize the presence of Jesus in one another: In His plan of salvation, God makes use of these simple souls to do much good for all mankind. In other words, The Holy Spirit employs ordinary men and women with simple faith as His instruments to bear witness to Christ, His ideals and teachings, just as He used Simeon and Anna. The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Lord to us when we are receptive and eager to receive Him. Let us be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us to recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord with us and in others.
I say this all the time, God “uses” people, events, things and situations not in a utilitarian way but in mysterious and salvific way in order to get to us. He presents Himself in every possible moment that we may “see” Him and like Simeon and Anna, be moved to realize the fulfillment of God’s promises at God’s designated and appointed time. Those little “presences” should bring us to a deeper devotion to God and like Simeon, it should bring us to chant our own Prayer of Blessings!
(In honor of the Presentation of Jesus and the Purification of Mary)
Now, Master, You can dismiss your servant in peace;
You have fulfilled Your word.
For my eyes have witnessed Your saving deed displayed for all the peoples to see: A revealing light to the Gentiles, the glory of Your people Israel. [Lk. 2:29-32]
Coronavirus may be a dangerous strand of virus as presented to us by social media or the news; Kobe Bryant may be the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) in basketball known in the history of the NBA, but there’s only one J.E.S.U.S. – He’s the glory of all Israel and of all humankind – the ONE who has COME and brought salvation to the WORLD! He is not dangerous but could cure any known diseases; He is not just the G.O.A.T., He is, as our Responsorial Psalm would say, "The King of Glory ... He is the Lord!"