FEBRUARY 2, 2003, PRESENTATION OF OUR LORD, - HOMILY 

A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES AND THE GLORY OF YOUR PEOPLE, ISRAEL. Formerly this feast was known as the Purfication of  the Bl. Virgin Mary, and, while the fact is still commemorated that Mary did submit to the Jewish law requiring the mother to be purified 40 days after the birth of her child, yet the emphasis is rightly placed on the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. 

Clearly, the Gospel that we have just heard emphatically stresses as the central figure in today’s events the person of the infant Jesus. Simeon declares him to be the very Light of God’s revelation to the World. He does so inspired by the Holy Spirit so that his witness is that of a prophet. Luke presents him as figuring the witness of the Jewish faith in the Messiah and of Israel’s trust in God’s fidelity. In a manner, Simeon represents the whole series of saintly prophets who spoke on behalf of God’s plan of salvation for his people. Simeon does more. He foresees the sufferings of our Lord and the effects that his active ministry will have for those to whom he preaches the Kingdom of God. He will be accepted by some, who will rise with him; others will reject him and as a consequence, will fall away from God’s favor. 

The light that this child brings into the world, then, is a revelation of God’s plan and an enabling of those who can see it for what it is.  Such believers will be enabled to receive the gift of salvation that is offered to all men, both to Israel and to the Gentiles, the peoples of the world, and to walk in that light according to God’s plan. The candles we light in today’s celebration are a symbol of this light brought by Christ, and the Light that is Christ. It is by holding on to him in faith that we are enabled to receive the salvation he brings in keeping with the eternal will of his Father. Only those who can see this light for what it is will be pleasing to God and so accepted by Him into the eternal light of glory. 

Let us then make it our concern to purify the eyes of our spirit and of our heart that we might ever recognize the light of Christ in all the events of life. Healthy eyes of the heart alone can sustain this light which is not a visible illumination but a strengthening of the powers of the spirit by the same Spirit of Holiness that inspired and guided Simeon and Anna and enabled them to recognize and accept Jesus as the light of the world and the glory of the people of God.  

Jesus not only comes into our midst today as we gather to celebrate this event in his life, but he even offers himself to the Father on our behalf at this altar. Still more he gives himself to us in communion. Let us receive him gratefully with loving faith and seek his favor that we might always walk in his light until we attain to the presence of the Father’s glory.

  Abbot John Eudes Bamberger


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