By Fr. Sanctus Mario Okey
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the presentation of the Lord. The feast of the presentation of the Lord comes forty days after the celebration of Christmas. And today marks it 40 days after we celebrated the birth of the Lord.
According to the Jewish custom, two ceremonies follow the birth of a newborn child. These two ceremonies are; the purification rite for the mother (Leviticus 12), and the consecration of the firstborn male child. This is done as God demands in Exodus 13:1-2.
Normally when a male child is born, the law prescribes that the parents sacrifice a lamb in thanksgiving to God. But if they cannot afford such sacrifice, they can offer a pair of turtledoves as alternatives.
So forty days after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem to fulfil these laws. It is in this event that Simeon and Anna encountered Jesus. They gave thanks to God for allowing them to behold the newborn child.
Everything about the feast of the Presentation of the Lord teaches what we have to do if we truly want to have a perfect relationship with the Lord. They are:
Total Dedication to God.
The Holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is highly dedicated to God. After the time, for the purification was completed, this family did not waste time to fulfill their obligations to God.
We can see the hunger and eagerness to come to God’s presence in them despite the long distance from Jerusalem to Nazareth.
In our own, we will shout we love God, but when it comes to the things of God, we slack and get behind.
The feast of the Presentation of the Lord shows us the need to have the hunger for God’s presence if truly we are in love with the Lord. The things of God should give us a huge thirst. We do not need to lag behind in that.
Obedience is the Key.
What the family of Joseph and Mary is doing today is to obey what the law prescribes. They do not want to count themselves out.
Once it is something concerning God, this family is ready to go to any extent, not minding what is involved. Through the feast of the presentation of the Lord, the Holy family is advising all who take God as a Father, that if truly He is your Father, then learn to obey Him at all cost, no matter what it may take.
We also need to follow the teachings and directives of the church. You do not choose what to obey and what not to obey. But today, many of us are abandoning the teachings of the Church to follow the teachings of one social media influencer. This then affected their faith. Many of us do not care about the teachings of God and the Church, and they tend to do what they like. To have a true relationship with God,we must also be ready to obey the Church.
To Persevere and be patient.
These two virtues are the two most powerful virtues we must have if we truly want a perfect relationship with the Lord.
These virtues are exemplified in the lives of the two great servants of God we meet at the temple today; Simeon and Anna. God promises Simeon that He would never see death until He beholds the Messiah, and this man continues to wait without losing hope.
Despite the years it took, He did not doubt what God said, he was there waiting. The point here is that Simeon knows that the promise to see the Messiah comes from God. Then if it comes from God, He knows that God will not disappoint.
The Second person Anna only lived with her husband for seven years, and after that, she did not miss worshiping God day and night, in fasting and prayer.
Remember that Anna only lived with her husband for seven years. This only would have made her complain and blame God for such a misfortune.
No one would pray for such to happen to him or her. But despite these, She persevered and never lost faith in God. If we are in the position of this woman, we would blame God and even lose faith.
Therefore, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord teaches us that even if we lose everything in life, do not lose your relationship with God.
The efforts of these servants of God were rewarded. Therefore, God does not forsake His own. God does not forsake those little sacrifices and efforts that we make everyday. Every sacrifice and effort that we make, simply counts. Therefore, when you are making sincere effort in your worship of God, do not grudge over it. The rewards come in the due time.
At the end of our lives, our relationship with God is what will lead us through.
So, we need God. Let us remain close to Him.
May God bless you, dearest, help us, to remain faithful to Him and dedicate ourselves totally to Him. Amen.