No grand openings

by | Jan 26, 2014 | Reflections

Vincent EucharistThe Presentation of the Lord, February 2, 2014 – Mal 3, 1-4; Heb 2, 14-18; Lk 2, 22-40

If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead (Lk 16, 31)

The Lord shows himself to us in the ordinary and the extraordinary.  He makes use of existing structures, yet he also breaks customary schemes.  How he is manifested is important, but not less important is the way we prepare to respond.

Jesus’ is presented in the temple in accordance with an ordinary practice in Judaism.  As ordinarily expected, he comes with his parents.  The family is simply keeping the customary prescriptions of the Mosaic law.  But then it does not take too long for the extraordinary to come to the surface.

Extraordinary preparation and attentiveness on the part of Simeon and the prophetess Anna.  They surely must have started on the path of righteousness and devotion by fulfilling the ordinary practices of the Jewish religion.  Their responses are so out of the ordinary that Mary and Joseph are amazed at what is being said of Jesus, even with the mention of a sword.  Perhaps all this is making them understand that the peaceful and simple life in Nazareth that they were imagining for themselves the day of the betrothal is not being realized.

Those who, by the grace of God, are faithful in little and ordinary matters are preparing for bigger and extraordinary matters.  This is true in the life of St. Vincent de Paul.  His more amazing achievements had its roots in his humble and simple responses to the needs of the moment shown to him by Providence in the course of ordinary life (Jacques Delarue).  It is no wonder that Malachi too promises the people that if they keep the known and usual commandments, they will get to marvel later at the Lord’s entry into the temple, certain that they will be healed, without being afraid that they will not be able to endure his coming or stand his appearance.

Those imbued with hope and longing wonder likewise upon perceiving that the fragile infant who is offering himself with his parents’ help is the glory of Israel and the light of the nations.  He presents himself like us in all things but sin, in order to debunk the myth—popular today and in Malachi’s time—that the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer, as well as to free us from the enslaving fear of death and of our creatureliness.

Assures Malachi, “Then the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord.”  May God be pleased also with our gifts of ordinary bread and wine and make them holy by the power of the Spirit, so that they may become, to our amazement, Christ’s body and blood.  May our celebration of the Lord’s Supper not turn loathsome on account of our indifference to the poor.

Ross Reyes Dizon

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