“Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek.”
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation. Mary and Joseph, as good and observant Jews, perform the ritual of bringing their child to the Temple to “present” him to the Lord God. Christian parents perform this same ritual when they bring their child to the church for baptism and present their child to God. They hear these words at the beginning of the ritual: “…the Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of his cross.”
Two righteous and devout Jews, Anna and Simeon, welcomed Jesus into the house of God, the Jerusalem Temple, and gave praise and thanks to God for this child. Simeon prayed: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation… a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
Simeon and Anna, like John the Baptist after them, are the messengers preparing the way for the Lord that we hear about in today’s first reading: “Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek” (Malachi 3:1). They announce that Jesus the Lord will bring the light of revelation and salvation to both Gentiles and Jews. No one is excluded.
Today, like Simeon and Anna, we welcome Jesus into our lives and our hearts. We prepare the way of the Lord by letting our light of love, compassion, and understanding shine before all people. It is not up to us to judge or exclude but to welcome all.