Meditation and Questions for Refelction and Group Discussion
(Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 24:7-10; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40)
The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, A Pointer to the Cross
… and you yourself a sword will pierce. (Luke 2:35)
Did you know that this day has several celebrations associated with it, including one that involves a large rodent?
In the Church, today is the feast of the Presentation, the feast of the Purification of Mary, and even Candlemas, since it’s the day that churches traditionally bless their candles. Since the Middle Ages, it has also been observed as Groundhog Day.
How did Groundhog Day get tied into this day of holy feasts?
First for Pagans and, later, Christians, February 2 held a special significance as representing the crossing of seasons: when people turned from the weariness of winter and rejoiced in the approaching spring. Over time, Christian folklore developed a theory that if an animal—a hedgehog or a badger, for instance—saw its shadow on the feast of the Presentation, spring would be six more weeks away. German immigrants brought this tradition to North America, where the groundhog became the weather prognosticator.
In a sense, today’s Gospel reading reveals a similar shift for Mary. Still in the first days of motherhood, she hears Simeon prophesy that a sword will pierce her heart. At that moment, she crossed from the joy of new motherhood to a deeper awareness of the sacrifices that awaited her. We, too, cross over today: from the celebration of Christmas to the upcoming austerity of Good Friday, from rejoicing in Jesus’ birth to joining him on the way to Calvary.
Now is the time to put away your warm memories of Christmas and begin looking toward the Lenten call to repentance. Just as God provided you with grace during the winter’s festival, he will give you even more grace to embrace a season of self-denial.
“Lord, guide me as I turn from the manger to the cross. May this Lent be a time of renewal.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- The first reading (Malachi 3:1-4) is a prophecy regarding the role of John the Baptist. This week at Mass, we celebrate the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. In what way was John the Baptist also a “presenter” of the Lord? In what ways are you?
- In the Responsorial Psalm, this question is continually asked: “Who is this king of glory?” How would you answer this question?
- The second reading (Hebrews 2:14-18), speaks of Jesus conquering sin, Satan, and death. What impact does this truth have in the way you live your life? What can you do to increase its impact on your life?
- What role did the Holy Spirit have on the life of Simeon as told in the Gospel reading? What impact does the Holy Spirit have on your life?
- What do you think Simeon meant when he said to Mary that a sword would pierce her soul? How was this prophetic word fulfilled in Mary’s life?
- The meditation speaks of the impact the “Presentation of the Lord” had on Mary:with these words: “Still in the first days of motherhood, she hears Simeon prophesy that a sword will pierce her heart. At that moment, she crossed from the joy of new motherhood to a deeper awareness of the sacrifices that awaited her.” The meditation then goes on to say that “We, too, cross over today: from the celebration of Christmas to the upcoming austerity of Good Friday, from rejoicing in Jesus’ birth to joining him on the way to Calvary.” During this “Ordinary Time” after Christmas, what steps can you take to begin to prepare for the grace-filled Lenten season?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace to make the upcoming Lenten season a time of repentance, self-denial, and renewal. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.