Deacon Homily Hot Sheet 209
Presentation of Our Lord 2/2/14 (Lourdes)
Deacon Thomas Winninger, CSMA
Malachi 3:1-4, Heb. 2:14-18, Lk. 2:22-40

And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek.

       How long have you been waiting? I don’t know about you, but I am not very patient. Not to turn this into confession, but it is my most reoccurring sin. I can call in carry out order from the restaurant parking lot and unfortunately wish it were ready when I bolt through the door. I am dealing with it, I’m trying to find comfort in the spirit who is trying to slow me down and give me peace. “But wait a minute Deacon this homily is not about you! It is about the coming of the Lord! Infinitely bigger than you!”

       The readings today are about patience and anticipation. This feast of Presentation of the Lord is about patience, excitement! The theme is to have sustained excitement about what you have been promised. But how long can one sustain excitement and anticipation?

       The first reading from the Prophet Malachi set the tone. “He is coming, says the Lord of hosts, but who will endure the day of his coming?” He is like the refiner’s fire…he will offer due sacrifice to the Lord!” Malachi was prophesying the salvation of the world, in the coming of Jesus Christ. Every Israelite knew of this prophecy but how many prepared themselves to meet the Messiah. And who should know it is he when he comes?David in psalm 24 sings, “Who is the king of glory? It is the Lord!” Spiritually, somehow David knew who the real king would be. He is the Lord! Just keep looking and waiting patiently for the Lord, be excited and expectant.

        Paul in his letter to the Hebrews confirms that Jesus is this king and that he will change the world forever. Things will never be as the Jewish people knew it before. Paul reminds the Hebrews that the Lord came in flesh so that he could lead us from our flesh into the divine of our souls. He was tested in the flesh so that we will be helped when we are tested in the flesh. He will save us from our sins.

        So what do we hear? Be patient, salvation in coming, joy will overcome the human existence. It all sounds like it is worth waiting. Then in the gospel according to Luke, we meet Simeon. Mary and Joseph take their 40-day-old son to the temple for the purification according to the Law of Moses. “Every male shall be consecrated to the Lord.” This tradition started in remembrance of the killing the oldest son of each of the Jewish families by decree of pharaoh in Egypt. This couple from out-of-town, from Nazareth, enters quietly into the Temple with their son, a pair of turtledoves and two young pigeons. Then Bam! They encounter Simeon and Anna. This quiet couple and their baby become the center of attention. You see Simeon and Anna without asking a question, know exactly who this baby is. This baby in swaddling clothes is the savior of the world, the divine in human flesh, the beginning of the beginning.

        How did they know they were encountering as they had been promised, Jesus the Christ? The same way we know on any given day when we encounter, as promised, Jesus Christ. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. In scripture Simeon and Anna are important figures on the pre - John the Baptist landscape. You see like Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, who recognized the infant in the womb as the Lord, Simeon and Anna made the same recognition. That moment they passed from the Old Law of Moses to the New Testament with the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But Deacon, I am not Simeon or Anna, I do not encounter Christ in my daily life. Let's pause on that for a moment. Jesus tells us, that each day we encounter him; each day he is with us in the real. But we do not recognize him then unfortunately do we acknowledge him. And why don't we? Is it because we have not prepared, or anticipated to meet him? He is there, just like he is here in this space, he is here in the Eucharist.

        So you ask, “What do I do to meet him?” That is the same as asking what we are called to do as a result of these scriptures. How can you encounter the divine if one does not anticipate the divine? First, we are called to expect him like Simeon and Anna. We are called to tune ourselves into the reality of Christ. Second, we do that by reflecting in scripture, on his messages to us. The scriptures are the word, the word that was made flesh. Have we learned to listen to scripture? Third, we are called to cooperate with grace by being patient. Jesus was in Nazareth for thirty years before he move to Capernaum to begin his public ministry. Augustine says we all receive the inspiration grace and grace is at work in us round the clock, when we are awake and when we are asleep. Grace is preparing us to encounter Christ and all we have to do is stay in the state of grace to cooperate. To stay in grace we must live in virtue, not sin. Oh, there it is I need to live in virtue, humble, forgiving, and loving.

And suddenly there you will recognize the Lord whom you seek.