February 2, 2020 — Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, when Mary and Joseph brought their infant Son to the Temple in obedience to the laws of their Jewish faith. This is a beautiful and, in many ways, mysterious feast — and one that is filled with lessons for a stewardship way of life.
Our first reading, from the book of Malachi, includes a prophecy of the event we celebrate today. “Lo, I am sending my messenger [a reference to John the Baptist] to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek.” Our first lesson is contained in that verse, “the Lord whom you seek.” Do we truly seek the Lord through the prioritizing of our relationship with Him above everything — and everyone — else in our lives? If we want to know Him and His will for our lives, we must spend time with Him in daily prayer, regularly participating in the sacraments, and studying our faith. Only in this way will we be ready when he “suddenly appears” in our lives — perhaps through a new opportunity to serve Him or an unexpected difficulty or blessing He wants to entrust to us. This is how a steward stays “spiritually fit” for whatever God may be asking of him or her next.
Our second reading, from Hebrews, is a poignant lesson in why we should embrace the stewardship way of life as both a true privilege and a serious responsibility. It reminds us that our Lord “had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way” and further that “because He himself was tested through what He suffered, He is able to help those who are being tested.” What amazing intimacy our Lord desires to have with us, and what amazing humility and love He shows us in His incarnation and the suffering He chose to take on for us. Of course we can trust Him with ourselves and our gifts! Truly, how can we have any hesitation to do so for a Savior who has done so much to prove His love for us?
Our Gospel passage from Luke, recounting the details of the Presentation of our Lord, teaches us a stewardship lesson through the example of St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother, the “Holy Parents.” Even knowing their Son was God, they still carefully observed the faith practices of their day bringing him to the temple “to present Him to the Lord just as it is written in the law of the Lord.” Later in the passage we read that, “When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to their own town of Nazareth.” The Holy Parents were good stewards of their child, teaching Him to live in obedience to the practices of their faith from His infancy and throughout His “growing up” years. Those of us entrusted with the care of children — whether our own children, godchildren, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, or students — have a vital role to play in the faith formation of these young ones. We, like the Holy Parents, must steward these children well, forming them in the faith by both instruction and example throughout their lives.
What a privilege and high calling we have as Christian stewards. Let us take these stewardship lessons to heart and present our gifts and our young ones joyfully to the Lord.