Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 2-02-23, Year A
Readings: First Reading Mal 3:1-4; Ps 24:7-10; Second Reading Heb 2:14-18;
Gospel Lk 2:22-40
Feast: Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas Day)
Theme: Light of Christ
I’ve often heard people say that they do not read the Old Testament because they do not think that God could be such a stern God and that the lives of the Hebrews and the Old Testament prophets really have no bearing on Christ and the New Testament. They prefer the nice God of Jesus in the New Testament over the mean God of the Old Testament.
Today we have another excellent example of why we should be reading the Old Testament. The Old Testament prefigures all that happens in the New Testament. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies and exhortations of the Old Testament.
The author of Malachi wrote today’s passage around 455 BC during the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile. The priests of Malachi’s day were not fulfilling their office very well and were displeasing God. The author of Malachi makes his pronouncement of the coming of a great messenger, one who will set things straight and refine those who are not pure. Malachi’s prophesy is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and His presentation in the temple.
What the writing of Malachi prophesied was that a great light is going to be revealed to all nations. A light of faith, hope, and love. A light of understanding, teaching, and counseling. A light of mercy, forgiveness, and life everlasting. That light is Christ Himself.
The righteous and devout man Simeon recognized Jesus the moment Mary and Joseph brought Him into the temple because of the light that showed through Him. Simeon knew that Malachi’s prophecy was now fulfilled, one that the Jewish people had been waiting for, for over 455 years. Simeon not only recognized that the light of the Messiah is now revealed to the people of Israel, but also a light of revelation to the Gentiles, you, and me.
In recognition of Jesus’s great light coming into the world, we celebrate the blessing of candles today. Candles provide us with God’s natural luminescence which reveals His love and points us to salvation. These candles are the light of Christ who leads us on the narrow path and through the narrow gate. Without Christ’s light, we can stumble, leave the path, and never find it again in the darkness of earthly life.
If Jesus was never presented in the temple, the prophecy of Malachi and the exhortations of Simeon about the Light coming into the world would not be revealed to the people. It was necessary for Jesus to subject himself to the prescriptions of humanity in order to become like us in every way except sin. He came to suffer in our human condition, but by doing so, showed us the way to heaven with His perfect light.
When you light a candle, remember that the warmth and glow of the flame is there to stir you into action and live a life of faith, hope, and love in the warmth and glow of Jesus Himself.