Friday, February 2, 2007

The Presentation of the Lord

The law for the concecration of the first-born male is found in Exodus 13:1-2
The LORD spoke to Moses and said, “Consecrate to me every first-born that opens the womb among the Israelites, both of man and beast, for it belongs to me.”
and in Exodus 13:11-16
“When the LORD, your God, has brought you into the land of the Canaanites, which he swore to you and your fathers he would give you, you shall dedicate to the LORD every son that opens the womb; and all the male firstlings of your animals shall belong to the LORD.

Every first-born son you must redeem. If your son should ask you later on, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall tell him, ‘With a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, that place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed every first-born in the land of Egypt, every first-born of man and of beast. That is why I sacrifice to the LORD everything of the male sex that opens the womb, and why I redeem every first-born of my sons.’
Luke describes the presentation in Luke:2:22-24
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
But then while Mary and Joseph were there they were approached by not one, but two genuine Prophets.

The first, Simeon, Luke calls:
...righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.
Simeon's blessing over the child Jesus is still said daily in Night Prayers. Luke says that Mary and Joseph were amazed at the words of the prophet.
But then he also had a message for Mary,
“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Next Anna, who Luke specifically calls a prophetess, comes forward, and instead of speaking privately to the holy couple,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
Simeon's forecast is of the price Mary will pay for her unquestioning decision to follow the will of the Lord. This was not a punishment but a natural result of the great love, a mother's love, for her Son.
Often in our lives we experience loss, pain and trouble. Like Mary we have been warned that this will be so. It does not mean that God does not love us or that we have done anything wrong. Sometimes it is just the way of things. When a loved one dies sometimes we feel betrayed by God. If He loves us why would He take our loved one away? We each have our own journey to take to God. When it is time we we all go to meet Him and leave behind those who are not yet ready to go.
Mary was to feel this loss when she stood at the foot of the cross. More on this during Lent.

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