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The Hebrew word Malachi simply means “My [that is, God’s] messenger.” Malachi was a prophet of God sent to the Jews who had resettled in Judea and to all Israel in general, depicted as “the sons of Jacob” (Malachi 3:6). Toward the close of the book, it becomes clear that God is also speaking to all of humankind. In today’s first reading, the words of this significant prophet of God; “And suddenly The Lord whom you seek will come to His Temple: yes, the angel of the covenant, for whom you long, is on his way, says Yahweh Sabaoth” (Malachi 3:1), draws an illuminating precursor to what unfolds many years later, in the era of the New Covenant.
Like every other day, in ‘the house of The Lord’, amidst worship, sacrifice, reconciliation and fellowship, the people of God; one day found themselves, unaware, in the moment which was prophesied, ordained and anointed by their Yahweh. The evangelist Luke, in today’s Holy Gospel, describes how Malachi 3:1 came to its fulfilment. The day came, the evangelist says, for them to be purified in keeping the Law of Moses. They took him up to Jerusalem to present Him to The Lord (Luke 2:22). Suddenly, the time came upon them (Kairos), when the One whom they seek, was in their Temple. But did they recognize him?
The little infant Jesus of Nazareth; who is God incarnate, omnipotent and majestic, is presented in the ‘house of His Father (John 2:16), by his righteous parents, in accordance to The Law. St. Joseph and Mary testify to being witnesses to God’s command to His people, in dedicating the first-born to Yahweh. How often do parents take joy in offering their children as living sacrifices for the sake of righteousness (Matthew 5:10).
People of God await the coming of The Lord, into their body, heart, mind and spirit, just like how the guests at the wedding await the coming of the bridegroom – with joy (Matthew 25: 1- 13). However, when the groom, The Lord arrives, do our inner eyes of faith recognise Him and our beings approach Him? Today’s Gospel accounts of an elderly man, upright and devout man called Simeon, who looked for the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him (Luke 2:25). Pope Francis once said, young people can learn a lot from Simeon; who represents the elderly who are wise, holy and humble. He pointed out that elderly such as Simeon teaches younger generations how to be able to expect and ‘recognize’ the presence of God, Jesus, in our everyday life. Those who age in wisdom have upright humility and deep-rooted understanding of righteousness. Such coming of age ensures the constant and living dwelling of the Holy Spirit within such persons.
Simeon gave thanks to God for letting him see / witness salvation made ready in the sight of the nations; a light of revelation for the gentiles and glory for your people Israel. In Isaiah chapter 49, verse 6, Yahweh assures of giving His son as a light to the Gentiles, that He may be His salvation to the ends of the earth. How does this light reach those who do not believe? The Catholic Church’s Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964, guided by the Holy Spirit; speaks eloquently about Universal call to holiness (Chapter V). Jesus the Lumen Gentium is indeed the ‘Light of all Nations’. The document urges an undeniable truth: every person must walk unhesitatingly according to his own personal gifts and duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works through charity.
Friends, let us always be conscious of the fact that Jesus is in our midst, Jesus is within us, and that Jesus is for every one of us. Let us therefore, present ourselves as a holy sacrifice as well as an instrument of His Father in the Temple (Church), to His people as His light and to ourselves also; as the only source of salvation. By doing so, we too like the prophetess Anna, who served God night and day with fasting and prayer in that temple (Luke 2:37), will find and recognise Christ our redemption, and thus begin to praise God and speak of ‘this child’ (Jesus) to all who look forward to the deliverance of mankind. Amen.