Sunday February 2, 2020 The 4th Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle A)
The tie in between today’s readings: Jesus reveals the true you.
Today’s gospel in Luke 2:22-40 begins some forty days after the first Christmas. Mary’s time of purification is over. She and Joseph are presenting their first-born son in Jerusalem to the Lord as required by the Law. Waiting their turn in line at the temple, with a pair of pigeons that they need to sacrifice, they are one of about a thousand families that came to worship that day. Nearby, there is a devout man named Simeon. He has a promise from the Almighty, that he will see the Lord’s Christ before he dies. Through Divine direction, he picks the baby out of the crowd and declares for all to hear that this boy is, in fact, the Messiah! Simeon joyfully blesses God for His provided salvation. Now, the bad news, he tells Mary that her son will be the most hated and most loved person who ever lived. A sword will also run through her own soul because of His sufferings to come. As Mary and Joseph try to recover from Simeon shock, the ancient eighty-four-year-old prophetess, Anna joins the scene and backs up his pronouncements. Out of the mouths of these two witnesses, the arrival of the Messiah was declared that day in the temple and, according to Jewish Law, became established truth. Their duties fulfilled, the Holy family returns home to start a normal life. However, considering all that had happened that day, not to mention the events of the past year: Gabriel’s visitation, Elizabeth’s pronouncements, and the shepherd’s angelic encounter at the virgin birth in Bethlehem, how could anything be normal? Mary will treasure and ponder all these things in her heart. She’ll need to. There’s a sword coming.
Jesus grows up and begins His love-hate ministry with His countrymen. He is loved when He lets the children come to Him because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He is hated when He cleanses the temple. He is loved after feeding the 5,000 and then hated when He tells them that He is the Bread of Life. He is loved when He makes His Triumphant entry on Palm Sunday, as referenced in our reading today in Psalm 24:7-10. He is hated a few days later when He is crucified on Good Friday. Our reading in Hebrews 2:14-18 gives us a clue as to why. Jesus shared in the full spectrum of humanity so that He could become a compassionate high priest for us. He was tempted in all aspects of life and remained sinless so that He could become the Lamb of God for us. He rose on Easter Sunday so that when we call out to Him to be rescued from our sin…He can save us.
Jesus, as it says in our reading in Luke 2:35, will reveal the thoughts of our hearts. He asks each of us, “Do you love Me?” If we see the pain that sin causes our God and ourselves, if we feel the sword of His sufferings pierce our own souls, if we are ready to say, “Not my will, but yours be done.” then our answer is, “Yes!” The Lord will start His transformation in our lives as we continue walking His path in this world and looking forward to His Second Coming and the kingdom of God. Our last reading, Malachi 3:1-4, tells us what will happen: “the Lord will come suddenly to His temple” (Malachi 3:1). Reading this passage carefully, we find that the temple refers to the true believers of His Church. Jesus, at this time, will examine our lives and purify us from the last vestiges of sin, see 1 Corinthians 3:10-16. This will be our presentation as His temple, where He will dwell perfectly in us and with us. We will perfectly bear His image on the new earth forever, as it should have been from the beginning. Let’s look forward and work toward that blessed day. Until then, Maranatha. Come quickly Lord Jesus.