The Presentation of the Lord (Feast)
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Liturgical Colour: White.
Mass Readings from ETWN.
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-363. 8-)
First Reading: Malachi 3:1-4,
Responsorial: Psalm 24:7-10,
2nd Reading: Hebrews 2:14-18 &
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Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-363. 8-)
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-364. 8-)
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-364. 8-)
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-365. 8-)
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-365. 8-)
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-366. 8-)
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-366. 8-)
Before our eyes we can picture Mother Mary as she walks, carrying the Baby Jesus in her arms. She brings him to the Temple; she presents him to the people; she brings him to meet his people.
The arms of Mother Mary are like the “ladder” on which the Son of God comes down to us, the ladder of God’s condescension. This is what we heard in the first reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews: Christ became “like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17). This is the twofold path taken by Jesus: he descended, he became like us, in order then to ascend with us to the Father, making us like himself.
In our heart we can contemplate this double movement by imagining the Gospel scene of Mary who enters the Temple holding the Child in her arms. The Mother walks, yet it is the Child who goes before her. She carries him, yet he is leading her along the path of the God who comes to us so that we might go to him.
Jesus walked the same path as we do, and shows us the new way, the “new and living way” (cf. Hebrews 10:20) which is he himself. For us, consecrated men and women, this is the one way which, concretely and without alternatives, we must continue to tread with joy and perseverance.
Fully five times the Gospel speaks to us of Mary and Joseph’s obedience to the “law of the Lord” (cf. Luke 2:22-24,27,39). Jesus came not to do his own will, but the will of the Father. This way – he tells us – was his “food” (cf. John 4:34). In the same way, all those who follow Jesus must set out on the path of obedience, imitating as it were the Lord’s “condescension” by humbling themselves and making their own the will of the Father, even to self-emptying and abasement (cf. Philippians 2:7-8). For a religious, to advance on the path of obedience means to abase oneself in service, that is, to take the same path as Jesus, who “did not deem equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Philippians 2:6). By emptying himself he made himself a servant in order to serve.
For us, as consecrated persons, this path takes the form of the rule, marked by the charism of the founder. For all of us, the essential rule remains the Gospel, yet the Holy Spirit, in his infinite creativity, also gives it expression in the various rules of the consecrated life which are born of the sequela Christi, and thus from this journey of abasing oneself by serving.
Through this “law” which is the rule, consecrated persons are able to attain wisdom, not something abstract, but a work and gift of the Holy Spirit. An evident sign of such wisdom is joy. The evangelical happiness of a religious is the fruit of self-abasement in union with Christ… And, when we are sad, we would do well to ask ourselves, “How are we living this kenosis?”
In the account of Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple, wisdom is represented by two elderly persons, Simeon and Anna: persons docile to the Holy Spirit, led by him, inspired by him. The Lord granted them wisdom as the fruit of a long journey along the path of obedience to his law, an obedience which likewise humbles and abases, but which also lifts up and protects hope, making them creative, for they are filled with the Holy Spirit. They even enact a kind of liturgy around the Child as he comes to the Temple. Simeon praises the Lord and Anna “proclaims” salvation (cf. Luke 2:28-32, 38). As with Mary, the elderly man holds the Child, but in fact it is the Child who guides the elderly man. The liturgy of First Vespers of today’s feast puts this clearly and beautifully: “senex puerum portabat, puer autem senem regebat”. Mary, the young mother, and Simeon, the kindly old man, hold the Child in their arms, yet it is the Child himself who guides them both.
Here it is not young people who are creative: the young, like Mary and Joseph, follow the law of the Lord, the path of obedience. The elderly, like Simeon and Anna, see in the Child the fulfilment of the Law and the promises of God. And they are able to celebrate: the are creative in joy and wisdom. And the Lord turns obedience into wisdom by the working of his Holy Spirit.
At times God can grant the gift of wisdom to a young person, but always as the fruit of obedience and docility to the Spirit. This obedience and docility is not something theoretical; it too is subject to the economy of the incarnation of the Word: docility and obedience to a founder, docility and obedience to a specific rule, docility and obedience to one’s superior, docility and obedience to the Church. It is always docility and obedience in the concrete.
In persevering along the path of obedience, personal and communal wisdom matures, and thus it also becomes possible to adapt rules to the times. For true “aggiornamento” is the fruit of wisdom forged in docility and obedience.
The strengthening and renewal of consecrated life are the result of great love for the rule, and also the ability to look to and heed the elders of one’s congregation. In this way, the “deposit”, the charism of each religious family, is preserved by obedience and by wisdom, working together. By means of this journey, we are preserved from living our consecration in “lightly”, in an unincarnate manner, as if it were some sort of gnosis which would ultimately reduce religious life to caricature, a caricature in which there is following without renunciation, prayer without encounter, fraternal life without communion, obedience without trust, and charity without transcendence.
Today we too, like Mary and Simeon, want to take Jesus into our arms, to bring him to his people. Surely we will be able to do so if we enter into the mystery in which Jesus himself is our guide. Let us bring others to Jesus, but let us also allow ourselves to be led by him. This is what we should be: guides who themselves are guided.
May the Lord, through the intercession of Mary our Mother, Saint Joseph and Saints Simeon and Anna, grant to all of us what we sought in today’s opening prayer: to “be presented [to him] fully renewed in spirit”. Amen.
Pope Francis I (Homily, 2 February 2015)
Before our eyes is a simple, humble and great fact: Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple of Jerusalem. He is a child like so many, like all, but he is unique: he is the Only Begotten who came for all. This Child has brought us the mercy and tenderness of God: Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy. This is the icon that the Gospel offers us at the end of the Year of Consecrated Life, a year lived out with so much enthusiasm. Like a river, it is now flowing into the sea of mercy, in this immense mystery of love that we are experiencing with the Extraordinary Jubilee.
Today’s celebration, especially in the East, is called the feast of the encounter. Essentially, in the Gospel that has been proclaimed, we see various encounters (cf. Luke 2:22-40). In the temple Jesus comes to meet us and we go to meet him. We contemplate the encounter with the elderly Simeon, who represents Israel’s faithful anticipation and the heartfelt jubilation for the fulfillment of the ancient promises. We also admire the encounter with the elderly prophetess Anna who, in seeing the Child, exults in joy and praises God. Simeon and Anna are the anticipation and the prophecy, Jesus is the novelty and the fulfillment: he is presented to us as the perennial surprise of God; concentrated in this Child born for all is the past, made of memory and of promise, and the future, full of hope.
We can see in this the beginning of consecrated life. Consecrated men and women are called first and foremost to be men and women of encounter. Indeed, the vocation does not originate from a plan we have designed “on the drawing board”, but from a grace of the Lord which touches us, through a life-changing encounter. Those who truly encounter Jesus cannot remain the same as before. He is the novelty that makes all things new. Those who experience this encounter become witnesses and make the encounter possible for others; they also promote the culture of encounter, avoiding the self-referentiality that makes us stay closed off within ourselves.
The passage of the Letter to the Hebrews which we heard reminds us that in order to encounter us, Jesus did not hesitate to share our human condition: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature” (2:14). Jesus did not save us “from the outside”, he did not remain outside of our drama, but wanted to share our life. Consecrated men and women are called to be a tangible and prophetic sign of this closeness of God, of this sharing in the condition of frailty, of sin and of the wounds of today’s mankind.
All forms of consecrated life, each according to its characteristics, are called to be in a permanent state of mission, sharing “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 1). The Gospel also tells us that “his father and his mother marvelled at what was said about him” (Luke 2:33). Joseph and Mary safeguard the astonishment over this encounter full of light and hope for all peoples. We too, as Christians and as consecrated people, are guardians of astonishment. An astonishment which requires ongoing renewal; woe to routine in spiritual life; woe to the crystalization of our charisms in an abstract document: the founders’ charisms — as I have said at other times — are not to be sealed in a bottle, they are not museum pieces. Our founders were moved by the Spirit and were not afraid to soil their hands with everyday life, with the problems of the people, courageously moving along the geographical and existential peripheries. They did not halt in the face of obstacles and the misunderstandings of others, because they kept in their heart the astonishment over the encounter with Christ. They did not tame the grace of the Gospel; they always had in their heart a healthy apprehension for the Lord, a heartrending desire to bring him to others, as Mary and Joseph did in the temple. We too are called today to make prophetic and courageous choices.
Lastly, through the encounter with Jesus and through the gift of the vocation to consecrated life we learn from today’s celebration to experience gratitude. Thanking, giving thanks: the Eucharist. How beautiful it is when we encounter the happy faces of consecrated people, perhaps already advanced in years like Simeon or Anna, content and full of gratitude for their own vocation. This is a word that can summarize all that we have experienced in this Year of Consecrated Life: gratitude for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who always enlivens the Church through various charisms.
The Gospel concludes with this expression: “the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him” (v. 40). May the Lord Jesus, through the maternal intercession of Mary, grow in us, and increase in each person the desire for encounter, the safekeeping of the astonishment and the joy of gratitude. Then others will be attracted by his light, and they will be able to encounter the Father’s mercy.
Pope Francis I (Homily, 2 February 2016)
When the parents of Jesus brought the Child in fulfilment of the prescriptions of the law, Simeon, “guided by the Spirit” (Luke 2:27), took the Child in his arms and broke out in a hymn of blessing and praise. “My eyes”, he said, “have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32). Simeon not only saw, but was privileged to hold in his arms the long-awaited hope, which filled him with exultation. His heart rejoiced because God had come to dwell among his people; he felt his presence in the flesh.
Today’s liturgy tells us that in that rite, the Lord, forty days after his birth, “outwardly was fulfilling the Law, but in reality he was coming to meet his believing people” (Roman Missal, 2 February, Introduction to the Entrance Procession). This encounter of God with his people brings joy and renews hope.
Simeon’s canticle is the hymn of the believer, who at the end of his days can exclaim: “It is true, hope in God never disappoints” (cf. Romans 5:5). God never deceives us. Simeon and Anna, in their old age, were capable of a new fruitfulness, and they testify to this in song. Life is worth living in hope, because the Lord keeps his promise. Jesus himself will later explain this promise in the synagogue of Nazareth: the sick, prisoners, those who are alone, the poor, the elderly and sinners, all are invited to take up this same hymn of hope. Jesus is with them, Jesus is with us (cf. Luke 4:18-19).
We have inherited this hymn of hope from our elders. They made us part of this process. In their faces, in their lives, in their daily sacrifice we were able to see how this praise was embodied. We are heirs to the dreams of our elders, heirs to the hope that did not disappoint our founding mothers and fathers, our older brothers and sisters. We are heirs to those who have gone before us and had the courage to dream. Like them, we too want to sing, “God does not deceive; hope in him does not disappoint”. God comes to meet his people. And we want to sing by taking up the prophecy of Joel and making it our own: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (2:28).
We do well to take up the dreams of our elders, so that we can prophesy in our day and once more encounter what originally set our hearts afire. Dreams and prophecies together. The remembrance of how our elders, our fathers and mothers, dreamed, and the courage prophetically to carry on those dreams.
This attitude will make our consecrated life more fruitful. Most importantly, it will protect us from a temptation that can make our consecrated life barren: the temptation of survival. An evil that can gradually take root within us and within our communities. The mentality of survival makes us reactionaries, fearful, slowly and silently shutting ourselves up in our houses and in our own preconceived notions. It makes us look back, to the glory days – days that are past – and rather than rekindling the prophetic creativity born of our founders’ dreams, it looks for shortcuts in order to evade the challenges knocking on our doors today. A survival mentality robs our charisms of power, because it leads us to “domesticate” them, to make them “user-friendly”, robbing them of their original creative force. It makes us want to protect spaces, buildings and structures, rather than to encourage new initiatives. The temptation of survival makes us forget grace; it turns us into professionals of the sacred but not fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters of that hope to which we are called to bear prophetic witness. An environment of survival withers the hearts of our elderly, taking away their ability to dream. In this way, it cripples the prophecy that our young are called to proclaim and work to achieve. In a word, the temptation of survival turns what the Lord presents as an opportunity for mission into something dangerous, threatening, potentially disastrous. This attitude is not limited to the consecrated life, but we in particular are urged not to fall into it.
Let us go back to the Gospel passage and once more contemplate that scene. Surely, the song of Simeon and Anna was not the fruit of self-absorption or an analysis and review of their personal situation. It did not ring out because they were caught up in themselves and were worried that something bad might happen to them. Their song was born of hope, the hope that sustained them in their old age. That hope was rewarded when they encountered Jesus. When Mary let Simeon take the Son of the Promise into his arms, the old man began to sing – celebrating a true “liturgy” – he sings his dreams. Whenever she puts Jesus in the midst of his people, they encounter joy. For this alone will bring back our joy and hope, this alone will save us from living in a survival mentality. Only this will make our lives fruitful and keep our hearts alive: putting Jesus where he belongs, in the midst of his people.
All of us are aware of the multicultural transformation we are experiencing; no one doubts this. Hence, it is all the more important for consecrated men and women to be one with Jesus, in their lives and in the midst of these great changes. Our mission – in accordance with each particular charism – reminds us that we are called to be a leaven in this dough. Perhaps there are better brands of flour, but the Lord has called us to be leaven here and now, with the challenges we face. Not on the defensive or motivated by fear, but with our hands on the plough, helping the wheat to grow, even though it has frequently been sown among weeds. Putting Jesus in the midst of his people means having a contemplative heart, one capable of discerning how God is walking through the streets of our cities, our towns and our neighbourhoods. Putting Jesus in the midst of his people means taking up and carrying the crosses of our brothers and sisters. It means wanting to touch the wounds of Jesus in the wounds of a world in pain, which longs and cries out for healing.
To put ourselves with Jesus in the midst of his people! Not as religious “activists”, but as men and women who are constantly forgiven, men and women anointed in baptism and sent to share that anointing and the consolation of God with everyone.
To put ourselves with Jesus in the midst of his people. For this reason, “we sense the challenge of finding and sharing a ‘mystique’ of living together, of mingling and encounter, of embracing and supporting one another, of stepping into this flood tide which, while chaotic, can [with the Lord] become a genuine experience of fraternity, a caravan of solidarity, a sacred pilgrimage… If we were able to take this route, it would be so good, so soothing, so liberating and hope-filled! To go out of ourselves and to join others” (Evangelii Gaudium, 87) is not only good for us; it also turns our lives and hopes into a hymn of praise. But we will only be able to do this if we take up the dreams of our elders and turn them into prophecy.
Let us accompany Jesus as he goes forth to meet his people, to be in the midst of his people. Let us go forth, not with the complaining or anxiety of those who have forgotten how to prophesy because they failed to take up the dreams of their elders, but with serenity and songs of praise. Not with apprehension but with the patience of those who trust in the Spirit, the Lord of dreams and prophecy. In this way, let us share what is truly our own: the hymn that is born of hope.
Pope Francis I (Homily, 2 February 2017)
Forty days after Christmas, we celebrate the Lord who enters the Temple and comes to encounter his people. In the Christian East, this feast is called the “Feast of Encounter”: it is the encounter between God, who became a child to bring newness to our world, and an expectant humanity, represented by the elderly man and woman in the Temple.
In the Temple, there is also an encounter between two couples: the young Mary and Joseph, and the elderly Simeon and Anna. The old receive from the young, while the young draw upon the old. In the Temple, Mary and Joseph find the roots of their people. This is important, because God’s promise does not come to fulfilment merely in individuals, once for all, but within a community and throughout history. There too, Mary and Joseph find the roots of their faith, for faith is not something learned from a book, but the art of living with God, learned from the experience of those who have gone before us. The two young people, in meeting the two older people, thus find themselves. And the two older people, nearing the end of their days, receive Jesus, the meaning of their lives. This event fulfils the prophecy of Joel: “Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (2:28). In this encounter, the young see their mission and the elderly realize their dreams. All because, at the centre of the encounter, is Jesus.
How good it is for us to hold the Lord “in our arms” (Luke 2:28), like Simeon. Not only in our heads and in our hearts, but also “in our hands”, in all that we do: in prayer, at work, at the table, on the telephone, at school, with the poor, everywhere. Having the Lord “in our hands” is an antidote to insular mysticism and frenetic activism, since a genuine encounter with Jesus corrects both saccharine piety and frazzled hyperactivity. Savouring the encounter with Jesus is also the remedy for the paralysis of routine, for it opens us up to the daily “havoc” of grace. The secret to fanning the flame of our spiritual life is a willingness to allow ourselves to encounter Jesus and to be encountered by him; otherwise we fall into a stifling life, where disgruntlement, bitterness and inevitable disappointments get the better of us. To encounter one another in Jesus as brothers and sisters, young and old, and thus to abandon the barren rhetoric of “the good old days” – a nostalgia that kills the soul – and to silence those who think that “everything is falling apart”. If we encounter Jesus and our brothers and sisters in the everyday events of our life, our hearts will no longer be set on the past or the future, but will experience the “today of God” in peace with everyone.
At the end of the Gospels, there is another encounter with Jesus that can inspire the consecrated life. It is that of the women before the tomb. They had gone to encounter the dead; their journey seemed pointless. You too are journeying against the current: the life of the world easily rejects poverty, chastity and obedience. But like those women, keep moving forward, without worrying about whatever heavy stones need to be removed (cf. Mark 16:3). And like those women, be the first to meet the Lord, risen and alive. Cling to him (cf. Matthew 28:9) and go off immediately to tell your brothers and sisters, your eyes brimming with joy (cf. v. 8). In this way, you are the Church’s perennial dawn. You, dear consecrated brothers and sisters, are the Church’s perennial dawn! I ask you to renew this very day your encounter with Jesus, to walk together towards him. And this will give light to your eyes and strength to your steps.
Pope Francis I (Homily, 2 February 2018)
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Compiled on 26 January 2020
Last updated : 29 January 2020