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Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Friday, July 04, 2014
The Presentation, by Fra Angelico OP
Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem, forty days after his birth, 'to present him to the Lord', as the Law of Moses required (Luke 2:22). St Luke stresses that the parents fulfil all their religious obligations meticulously; and the offering of two birds shows their humble poverty. But the significance of the Presentation goes much further. As the prophet Malachi had announced (Mal. 3:1):

Behold ... the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his Temple.

Now it is two new prophetic figures, Simeon and Anna, who recognise that the Lord has indeed come to his Temple. They have been waiting patiently for the promised Saviour, the Messiah, and now they cradle him in their arms. Simeon gives thanks to God: 'my eyes have seen your salvation'. Indeed, he is holding Salvation in his very arms, for the baby is Yeshua or Jesus, which means Salvation.

This Saviour will be the fulfilment of the Jewish religion, with its Law and Temple, to demonstrate the glory of Israel. But he has also come as a light for the Gentile nations, and offers salvation to the whole world.

This salvation in Christ is tragically not recognised by all. Simeon predicts that Jesus would bring division; and the opposition to his divine mission would be a 'sword' to pierce Mary's soul. This loving mother would see her son suffer and die, as his infinite love carried him to the Cross.

The great joy of the Presentation, then, is already tinged with the anticipation of future sorrows. Salvation comes at a cost, as Jesus gives his life for us. But this, too, is a cause for joy. As we meditate on his Presentation, we rejoice that Salvation has come to us and has given his life for us.

Matthew Jarvis OP


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