A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus 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. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel." The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "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." There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Mother Mary must have looked forward with great joy to bring Jesus, the son of God, to his father’s house. “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.” God’s own son was publicly “consecrated to the Lord”.
The Jewish tradition of the presentation is not equivalent, but yet, reminds me of Christians baptizing their own children. As a mother, I knew my children were a gift from God, and so, I looked forward to having my children baptized and becoming a member of God’s family.
One of my children was baptized in a cathedral size church featuring an alcove reserved for baptisms. It was a setting of great beauty and elegance, with a crystal chandelier over the marble baptismal font. The large niche was three-sided with stained glass windows depicting the history of baptism in the universal church and in the establishment of this local church. The rays of light passing through the colored glass produced a glorious setting for the beginning of a life with Christ.
Unfortunately, the setting of this sacrament seems to fade as the world invades our religion. Parents who baptize their children want them to remain in the church and to grow in their faith. However, the laws governing society have drastically changed since my children were baptized. The recent laws passed that blatantly disregard the sanctity of life are evidence that worldly views have society creating their own morals. We have allowed the veil of evil to blind us to the truth. Sometimes I stop and think, how did we get to this point of moral degradation? I believe it happens one thought at a time. One thing leads to another until the end looks very different from the beginning.
The “dictate in the law” is set to give us direction in living. We must spend more time praying for our law makers and world leaders to act with a passion for maintaining the foundation of society, the family. We have taken our eyes off God and let horrifying destructive ideas replace the freedom of truth. Are we ready to stand up for the truth and pull down the veil of evil? Jesus came to us for this very reason.