The Presentation: an example for family life today
By Rev Kenneth & Bernadette Phillips
“ . . . the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem . . . observing what stands written in the Law . . . and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord…”
In the gospel passage today, Mary and Joseph obey the requirements of their religion, and in so doing, fulfil the prophetic word of the Lord to Malachi: “. . . the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple . . .”; the Messiah for whom Israel waited.
The kairos time has come —God’s appointed time for the revelation of the true Temple of God; not that made by human hands, but Him in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells.
God’s saving will is established in His own time and with the cooperation of human persons. Among the many lessons one may learn from this event today is the importance of human piety in the advancement/completion of God’s plan of salvation.
Joseph and Mary are clearly very devout Jews, and as they engage with their journey of faith, we have a shining example of how we should, as Catholic Christian families, be living today—as the ‘domestic church’, called to “full, active, conscious participation” in the life of the Church.
The Church teaches that the family is the primary locus of the education and faith formation of the children, with whom God has blessed the parents. The Church also teaches that adult catechesis is the principal form of catechesis (Catechesi Tradendae, #43) and with very good reason: we cannot witness to what we have not experienced.
And so, it is the piety of parents—their life of prayer, and especially the liturgical experiences into which the family is immersed—which become the basis of the faith formation of the children.
Today, the family is under major attacks by the forces of evil and by the secularisation of human existence. The major social crises which we are experiencing in T&T clearly reflect the fact that “as the family goes, so goes the nation and the Church”.
Young people who are created in the image and likeness of God, and who end up going down the wrong path for whatever reason, are labelled as “pests” who ought to be “exterminated”.
The gospel says Joseph and Mary present Jesus to the Father in the Temple. It is instructive that only the devout persons, Simeon and Anna, recognise Him: those who have eyes to see!
Among the questions we may ask ourselves are the following:
The gift of the book Four Marks of a Dynamic Catholic by His Grace to the local Church, gives us a door into the development of our spiritual lives: prayer, study, generosity and evangelisation (which parallel the Prayer, Study and Action of the Cursillo Movement).
If we make the effort to engage these guidelines and “re-gift” them in the POSITIVE SENSE of the word, the challenges of being light in the darkness, will be surmounted, maybe not as suddenly as Malachi suggests, but in the perseverance of faith, we are assured that darkness cannot triumph over light.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, bless the families of our nation!
The gospel meditations for February are by Rev Kenneth & Bernadette Phillips, catechists of St Joseph’s, Scarborough.