Commentary on the Gospel of
Today we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This feast is known as the feast of Encounter in the Eastern Church where it began. In 1997, Pope John Paul II instituted a world day of prayer for consecrated life attached to this feast. Of course, in the United States and Canada, when one hears February 2, what comes to mind is Groundhog Day, the day when a prediction is made about how many more weeks of winter are left depending on whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not. But unlike the uncertainty of the weather, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord has a sense of certainty associated with it. In this feast, we celebrate the certainty of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel that is fulfilled in Jesus but that is extended to the entire world. And, we celebrate the continuation of God’s love in our own world, of God continually reaching out towards us and inviting us into a relationship or encounter.
As I reflected on the reading from Luke, I was struck by two aspects. The first involved Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to the temple. In a way, they make Jesus present. The second aspect is of Simeon and Anna recognizing Jesus as the promised one. As disciples of Jesus, each one of us is called to embrace both these aspects. To be the presence of Jesus in the world around us and to be able to recognize Jesus as revealed or made present by others.
To be the presence of Jesus in the world, it might help to recall the beautiful prayer of Saint Teresa of Avila:
God of love, help us to remember
That Christ has no body now on earth but ours
No hands but ours, No feet but ours
Ours are the eyes to see the needs of the world.
Ours are the hands with which to bless everyone now.
Ours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.
And, to recognize Jesus made present by others, we perhaps need to, as Simeon and Anna did, rely on God’s grace.