LECTIO DIVINA: Presentation of the Lord, Cycle A
Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR
A. INVOCATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
WE INVOKE THE HOLY SPIRIT USING THE WORDS OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ, is sanctified to become a citizen of the City of God! (en. Ps. 45:8) Come, Holy Spirit, grant that we receive the motions of God; put in us your flame; enlighten us and raise us up to God (s. 128, 4). Amen.
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.
Concerning the first-born son, in Ex. 13:2 it is written: v.2 “Consecrate to me every first-born that opens the womb among the Israelites, both of man and beast, for it belongs to me….v. 12 “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.” Concerning the mother at childbirth, in Lev. 12 it is written: v.2 “When a woman has conceived and gives birth to a boy, she shall be unclean for seven days, … v.3 “On the eighth day, the flesh of the boy’s foreskin shall be circumcised, v.4 and then she shall spend thirty-three days more in becoming purified of her blood … v.6 When the days of her purification for a son …are fulfilled, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the meeting tent… v.8 two turtledoves or two pigeons, the one for a holocaust and the other for a sin offering. The priest shall make atonement for her, and thus she shall again be clean.” Jesus as the Only Begotten Son of the Father does not need to be presented to God. Mary as the Immaculate Conception does not need to be purified. And yet both complied with the Torah and submitted themselves to the Law as given through Moses. When John the Baptist objected to Jesus who came to him for baptism, Jesus told him, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” In Gethsemane, Jesus submitted to the Father: “Not my will but thine be done.” At the annunciation Mary for her part accepted God’s plan and said, “Be it done to me according to your word.” By their obedience and submission Jesus and Mary became the instruments of salvation for all of us. It is clear then that if any of us wants to be instrument of God to bring salvation of others, we must also learn to obey and submit to the will of the Father.
Next to consider are the words of Simeon: “my eyes have seen your salvation which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” We had seen how a Star guided the Magi to Jesus, now Simeon specifies that this Child is “salvation” and “a light of revelation to the Gentiles.” And as the Star indicated the New Born King of the Jews, so now this Child in the arms of Simeon is to bring “glory to your people Israel” because the Savior chose to be born of the stock of Abraham and the lineage of David. Speaking directly to the Mother, Simeon said: “a sword shall pierce your soul.” Jesus is only forty days old, and the Mother is made to know that sorrow will be her lot because this child is a “sign the will be contradicted.” Jesus brings salvation, will teach us the way back to the Father, he will heal illnesses and cure various diseases, he will drive out demons, but his enemies will say that he was acting in the name of Beelzebub. In Bethlehem, the shepherds who were Jews, and the Magi who were Gentiles came to pay homage and bring gifts, now forty days later, Mary and Joseph came to know, right under the shadow of the temple in Jerusalem, that though Jesus would bring salvation for the Gentiles, many in Israel will oppose and contradict him. Joseph would stand by Mary and Jesus to support them, but only the soul of Mary will be pierced by the sword of sorrow. Even now, let us make the resolve that when the time comes we shall stand with Mother Mary at the foot of the Cross to support her. Anna “worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer” in the temple; with her let us give “thanks to God and” speak about Jesus “to all who are awaiting the redemption” of God’s people.
Fathers, mothers, after baptism you bring your child in front of the altar; thank God for the gift of life. Ask for good health of body, of mind and of spirit for yourselves and your child. Ask for the grace to transmit the redemption of Jesus to your child with the guidance and strength of Mary and Joseph. Even now ask your Guardian Angels to be always with you to guide and protect you and your child.
THINK OF EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH THOSE AROUND YOU ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE YOU HAD WITH GOD, ESPECIALLY CONCERNING THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND THE UNIVERSAL JUDGMENT. THE FOLLOWING POINTS CAN HELP YOU AS GUIDE TO SHARE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY THE EXPERIENCE OF THE LECTIO DIVINA ON THIS TEXT.
•What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prayer?
•How can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What light does it give me? What challenges does it put before me?
•What concrete commitment does this text of Scripture ask of me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
•What has been my predominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
G. FINAL PRAYER OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Turning towards the Lord: Lord God, Father Almighty, with a pure heart, as far as our littleness permits, allow us to give you our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from your particular goodness, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you may increase our faith, govern our mind, give us spiritual thoughts, and bring us to your happiness, through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with you lives and reigns, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen (en, Ps. 150:8).
“A pure heart is the same as a simple heart, and just as it is necessary to have healthy bodily eyes to see the natural light, so too one cannot see God if the means to see him is not purified” (s. dom. m. 1,2,9).