Liturgy of the Sunday

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Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Remembrance of Simeon and Anna, two elderly who waited for the Lord with faith. Prayer for the elderly. Memorial of the centurion Cornelius, the first pagan who was converted and baptized by Peter.


First Reading

Malachi 3,1-4

'Look, I shall send my messenger to clear a way before me. And suddenly the Lord whom you seek will come to his Temple; yes, the angel of the covenant, for whom you long, is on his way, says Yahweh Sabaoth. Who will be able to resist the day of his coming? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire, like fullers' alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they can make the offering to Yahweh with uprightness. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will then be acceptable to Yahweh as in former days, as in the years of old.

Psalmody

Psalm 23

Antiphon

Lord you are the king of glory.

The Lord is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all its peoples.

It is he who set it on the seas;
on the waters he made it firm.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?

The man with clean hands and pure heart,
who desires not worthless things
who has not sworn so as to deceive his neighbour,

He shall receive blessings from the Lord
and reward from the God who saves him.

Such are the men who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob.

O gates, lift high your heads;
grow higher, ancient doors.
Let him enter, the king of glory!

Who is the king of glory?
The Lord, the mighty, the valiant,
the Lord, the valiant in war.

O gates, lift high your heads;
grow higher ancient doors.
Let him enter, the king of glory!

Who is he the king of glory?
He, the Lord of armies, he is the king of glory.

Second Reading

Hebrews 2,14-18

Since all the children share the same human nature, he too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could set aside him who held the power of death, namely the devil, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself the line of Abraham. It was essential that he should in this way be made completely like his brothers so that he could become a compassionate and trustworthy high priest for their relationship to God, able to expiate the sins of the people. For the suffering he himself passed through while being put to the test enables him to help others when they are being put to the test.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 2,22-40

And when the day came for them to be purified in keeping with the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord- observing what is written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord- and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is prescribed in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to the restoration of Israel and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said: Now, Master, you are letting your servant go in peace as you promised; for my eyes have seen the salvation which you have made ready in the sight of the nations; a light of revelation for the gentiles and glory for your people Israel. As the child's father and mother were wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 'Look, he is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is opposed- and a sword will pierce your soul too -- so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.' There was a prophetess, too, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came up just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And as the child grew to maturity, he was filled with wisdom; and God's favour was with him.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

Forty days have passed since Christmas, and today the Church celebrates feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple, the place of God's Presence. According to Luke's Gospel, the Presentation took place when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to carry out the precepts of the Law. In the Eastern Christian tradition, this feast is celebrated as the feast of the Encounter. It is the encounter between God and his people, which takes place in the temple and celebrates Jesus as the "light of the nations." Dear brothers and dear sisters, the Lord is coming to encounter our lives, and he does it in the liturgy that we are celebrating. He comes to illuminate our lives and the life of our world. The hearts of many are still plunged in darkness and cannot find light. But today the liturgy strongly reminds us that the Lord is coming to encounter his people, for, as the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, God does not take care of angels, but of the "descendants of Abraham," of which we are part. And God comes to encounter us as a child brought by his parents. That child is the living sign of God's love, which takes care of every man and woman. But who recognizes him? The Gospel speaks of an elderly man named Simeon, who was "looking forward to the consolation of Israel," that is, who was looking for signs of hope and consequently let himself be guided by the Spirit. He did not resign himself to the spirit of this world, which thinks that nothing can change and that everything in history and life is destined to repeat itself.
"Guided by the Spirt," - the Gospel says - Simeon goes to the temple, the place where he had heard the Word of God so many times and understood that the Word was a prophecy for him: he would not see death before he saw the Messiah, the Christ. That elderly man let himself be guided by a prophecy. He did not become resigned, but he showed that he had an attentive, vigilant heart, which had not grown old in the midst of its complaints, as our hearts sometimes risk doing. And when Simeon sees Jesus, he takes him in his arms. Indeed, Jesus lets himself be taken in the arms of all those who are looking for consolation for their lives and for the life of the world. Simeon makes his great confession of faith; he sings in wonder and joy at the fulfilment of his life: "Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation." Simeon's eyes look into the distance, illuminated by the Word of God. They do not stop at the present and at his own life, but they see that which is not yet visible. He speaks of what he sees to Mary, the mother of the child. Jesus will be a sign of contradiction, a sign that can be welcomed or refused, simultaneously a source of great joy and great suffering. This contradiction becomes a foretelling of the cross, a life given for love.
And as if to confirm this prophecy, there is another figure who emerges as a second witness, an elderly woman, the prophetess Anna, a widow who at 84 years old was always praying in the house of God. She too recognizes the child as the Messiah and begins to tell the good news to everyone in the temple. This is how the encounter between the Son of God and his people takes place. Two elderly people, the humble Simeon and the widow Anna, recognize him. The humble and the poor welcome the light of this life that is given for all. They give thanks and praise to God, and begin to communicate this Gospel to all. In this encounter we can see the strength of the future! In the lives of two elderly people and in the encounter between generations, the hope of the Gospel is communicated from heart to heart.