Saturday, February 1, 2014

Homily Feb 2 Presentation of the Lord: Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily Feb 2 Presentation of the Lord: Michael U. Udoekpo
 Readings: Malachi 3:1-4; Ps 24:7-10; Heb 2:14-18 and Luke 2:22-40

 Christ, a Light of Revelation to the Gentiles
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, “Candlemas”, which clearly points us to imitate Christ, the Light of the world, and of course the roles of Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna. Christ born at Christmas is the son of God. He is the heir to God the Father. He is higher than the angels. He is the Messiah, human and divine. He obeys his parents, Mary and Joseph, keeps the laws and the customs. He is the savior of the world, a sign of contradiction, who conquers our fears, and darkness of poverty, diseases and of course death. He also challenges dark and unclean status quo of this world to the point of death.  And there is no greater services than Christ's, who laid down his life for us, his friends.

 Christ's coming was foretold by all Israel’s prophets, including Malachi, the Twelfth of the Twelve Minor Prophets. It is quite a hopeful message that Christ the messenger of the covenant will come not just as light, but as a refiner of fire. He will purify the sons of Levi. Meaning, he will purify not just ordinary citizens, put the priests and the elite class of the community. He will refine them that they may offer pure and acceptable sacrifices to the Lord (Mal 3:1-4).

Simeon and Anna in today’s Gospel lived to witness the fulfillment of this prophecy of Malachi. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. Just the good parents of Jesus obediently and faithful brought Jesus to present him to the Lord as Abraham had done with Isaac, the Spirit of the Lord brought the righteous and devout (tsaddiq) man to the Temple. With the spirit upon him Simeon recognized in Christ, a fulfilment of those ancient promises made to Israel. In his Nunc Dimittis, Simeon can now die in peace since he has been privileged to see Christ- the light of salvation revealed to Israel and the Gentiles.

Simeon added that Christ will be a sign of contradiction. Because of Christ a sword will pierce Mary’s heart. As if this was not enough Ann also gave thanks and spoke about Jesus to all who were awaiting the redemption of Israel.

 These, we all know came to pass in the ministry of Christ, in his suffering, death and resurrection, but at first hand it must have been a total mystery and amazement to Mary and Joseph who were just out there to live their humble lives as good citizens and to give thanks to God for blessing them with a baby boy- Jesus.
It is mysteries of Incarnation expressed in the 2nd reading. God becoming man in the person Christ, who completely became like us, his brothers and sisters except sin (Heb 2:14-18). Walked along the dusty street of Palestine. He knew what dust and what trekking on foot looks like.  He was hungry. He was tested in the desert. He once took the boat. He ate with sinners and broke fish with the disciples. He washed their dusty feet. He drank from the Samaritan woman. He attending a weeding in Cana. He visited with the sick and cured them. He reached out to the blind, the cripple, the leper and the homeless, and raided the dead.  In every facet of human life and sufferings Christ was there, except in sinning. He knows how to be human and where to shed his light of help to the darkness of our world, symbolized also by that processional candles with which we began this worship with.

 Granted that there are moments of darkness in our homes, communities in and societies- in forms of sufferings, abuse of power (civil and ecclesiastical) and priestly office (sons of Levi), low income, loss of our loved ones, jobs, exclusion of the poor, deprivation of our rights and the dignities; absence of peace and pursuit of the common good may we continue to encourage one another in Christ. And may Mary, Joseph, be our models. They endured their own challenges, and gave back to God and the world all they received from God, including the child Jesus.

 May Simeon and Ann who spread the truth they saw in Christ, be our role models in our efforts to be generous to our communities, and to bring Christ, the Light of the Revelation to the doors of our Gentiles Neighbors.