Recognizing the Messiah

First Reading: Mal 3:1-4
Psalm: Ps 24:7, 8, 9, 10
Second Reading: Heb 2:14-18
Gospel: Lk 2:22-40

Today’s Gospel is a story about loving parents, a baby, religious
observance, a visionary holy man, and a wise woman. Being observant
Jews, Simeon and Anna knew the prophecies, they knew that God’s promise
would one day he fulfilled, and they were looking for the signs as they
waited. Both of them immediately recognized Jesus as the long awaited
Messiah. Simeon was gifted with the Holy Spirit as he spoke of this
child as a light to the Gentiles and the glory for Israel. Anna lived
her days and nights in worship, fasting, and prayer, in a sense, she
was in the right place at the right time and because she was prepared,
she was able to recognize the revelation of God in Jesus in the Temple
that day in Jerusalem. Are we able to recognize Jesus in our lives
today?

Jesus is present for us in many ways. Yet, we have to admit that our
ability to recognize him is sometimes faulty. Jesus is present in
ourselves, in our family members, in our neighbors, and even in those
we dislike. We have received the gift of the Holy Spirit who will show
us Jesus in ourselves and in others. We are temples of the Holy Spirit
“for the whole Spirit of Christ is in each of the members of the
Church. You have within each of you the grace of God necessary to
recognize Jesus. You only have to extend your arms in love to those
around you if you intend to imitate Simeon and Anna.

If this is difficult to do, remember that Jesus gives you the strength
in this Mass to follow his command that “You shall love the Lord, your
God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength,
and all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

By doing this you are sure to recognize Jesus, as did Simeon and Anna.
Today is also called Candlemas Day. Traditionally, candles are blessed
today in our parishes for use in both the home and the church.

Candlemas Day occurs on the Feast of the Presentation because the holy
man Simeon foresaw that the infant was to be a “light to the Gentiles.”
This is the symbolism of the lighted candles we use in our religious
rites and our private devotions.

The light, which is Jesus, we carry at the center of our being. It can
banish all the darkness within us, if we allow it, even from the most
remote corners of our souls. It can also flow out from us, lighting
the hearts of others. Or, we can trim it down, even snuff it out,
allowing the darkness to spread about us and deepen within us. Let us
pray that we shall allow the light of Christ to brighten every dark
corner within us so that, like Jesus, we might be light- bearers to the
world.

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