A phrase in the OPENING PRAYER of this Sunday’s Eucharist caught my eye in preparation of this week’s reflection began. There we are told that the Son was presented at the Temple in the substance of our flesh.” In some strange but real way the whole of humankind was, in the person of Jesus Christ, presented to the Father. WE HAVE ALL BEEN PRESENTED TO OUR GOD! This is a sobering thought. It raises two questions and challenges.

Firstly

, what do I – in a personal, individual, way – make of my presentation to our Christian God? What does it mean to me on the level of faith? Surely it should make me more secure ‘in’, and acceptable to, him? In days gone by young ladies, on reaching a certain age, were presented at Court …. they came out and were, for good or evil, let loose on society! It was a sign of acceptance. In some way this remains in vogue at 21st Birthdays when the young man or woman is given the keys of the door!

I have been let loose on the work of the Kingdom and given the keys of the door – to come and go as I please! I have been accepted as a responsible member of Jesus’ team in the world.

HOW AM I SHAPING?

Secondly

, it follows that I ask myself: how do I present the Lord to the world in which I live? In other words – how am I functioning as an angel-divine-messenger?

We need to apply the opening words of

OUR OLD TESTAMENT READING [MALACHI 3: 1 – 4] to ourselves: behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me.” We must, of course, accept, that after my presentation I always stand in need of being refined and purified until I present right offerings to the Lord. The mere fact that I have been presented at Court and / or given the keys of the door is not a magic wand. I still have much to learn in order to become a more faithful and effective messenger.

This Sunday’s

GOSPEL [ LUKE 2: 22 – 40] records the messages proclaimed by two human-divine messengers – first by Simeon, the second by Anna. Do not miss the fact that Simeon’s message had an effect on Jesus’s parents ….. his father and mother marvelled at what was said about him.” Even Mary and Joseph had much to learnwe are not exceptions to this necessary process. Messages, primarily, refer to the need for specific preparation in the present so that our God may be more fully manifested. Little use it is to give ‘messages’ which refer to the past?! Pope Francis in his exhortation Evengelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) teaches that today’s vast and rapid cultural changes demand that we constantly seek ways of expressing unchanging truths in a language which brings out their abiding newness.”

Unless I become a divine-angel-messenger who is willing to learn, the message I give will be ‘dated’ the moment it is delivered

. It follows, then, that I will not make a credible presentation of the Lord!

In the same Exhortation quoted above, the Pope continues by pointing out that “we must never forget that we are pilgrims journeying alongside one another … the Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other

(cf EXODUS 3:5).” {note the words I have emphasised} In my presentation of the Lord to others I must never forget that I myself have been presented to him – and need to be presented over and over again. In addition, I must always know that the messenger is no greater or better than the one to whom the message is given. Very often I need to hear and receive my own message!

The art of accompaniment … remove sandals before the sacred ground of the other.”

Here we are given two essential guidelines in OUR NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [HEBREWS 2: 14 – 18]. Firstly, it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. Secondly, in the last verse, there is the reminder that we are only able to help those who are tempted because we, too, suffer temptation.

As divine messengers always be aware that we are dealing with people like ourselves – human, frail and limited. We accompany one another, and each must take the other where the other actually is. We are dealing with humans, not angels! I learn about the other only in and through my accompaniment of him or her. My presentation must ‘fit’ the concrete situation.

Simeon

and Anna had been faithful for many, many years during which they had learnt a good deal. They had, as our Hebrews’ extract describes it, been faithful in the service of God.”

In the case of many messengers, faithfulness in service is the most powerful of all Presentations of the Lord!


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