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Photo: Hans Holbein the Elder (1500–01, Kunsthalle, Hamburg)
Obedience, Even for the Messiah
The Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation in the Temple
By Dan Valenti (Oct 10, 2014)
Fourth of a 20-part series on the Mysteries of the Rosary. Next week: The Finding in the Temple.
The Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, illustrates the spiritual fruit of obedience, says Fr. Mariusz Jarzabek, MIC, a Marian priest serving the Congregation's mission in the Philippines. Father Mariusz notes the progression of events.
We read in Holy Scripture, in the second chapter of Luke, beginning at verse 22 and ending at verse 38, the story of the Presentation. In obedience to the Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple. Jewish law required that a firstborn male child should be consecrated to the Lord.
"Jesus, of course, as God, is not subject to the law," says Fr. Mariusz. "Nonetheless, to teach obedience, His parents submit themselves and their Son to that law. We note also that in presenting her child to God in the temple, a Jewish woman would ritually purify herself after giving birth. Mary, as the Immaculate Conception, did not need purity, yet she humbly submits herself to this condition."
Writer Jennifer Hartline says that reading the opening of Luke 2:22-24 "is rather humorous. Mary and Joseph took the Lord to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord! The Lord presented Himself to Himself!" This is done, she writes, so that "He was given no special treatment. God was not about to break His own rules. He came to fulfill the Law, not toss the Law out the window."
While in the temple, God takes an active hand in the events that occur. The Holy Spirit had revealed to the old man Simeon that he would not die until he personally had laid eyes on the Messiah, the long-awaited redeemer of the Jewish people.
Knowing that God delivers on His promises, the old man recognizes Jesus as the Son of God: "At that point," Fr. Mariusz says, "Simeon takes Jesus in his arms, holding the child. What a wonderful picture that is, this elderly man cuddling the infant. Simeon then prays: 'Lord, now let me, Your servant, depart in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples.' This beautiful prayer again reinforces the virtue of obedience. Simeon lives by obeying God's will, and believing in it, he finds his eternal reward. So it is with us, too."
Simeon also reveals to Mary that her Son will cause the rise and fall of many (verse 34) and that a sword will pierce her heart (verse 35). The prophetess Anna gives thanks to God and speaks about the Child Jesus to all those who are waiting for the Messiah (verse 38).
"This mystery tells us to remain, always, obedient to God's will for our lives," Fr. Mariusz says.
1. The Annunciation
2. The Visitation
3. The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus
4. The Presentation in the Temple
5. The Finding in the Temple
1. The Baptism of Jesus
2. The Wedding at Cana
3. The Proclamation of the Gospel
4. The Transfiguration
5. The Institution of the Eucharist
1. The Agony in the Garden
2. The Scourging at the Pillar
3. The Crowning with Thorns
4. The Carrying of the Cross
5. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus
1. The Resurrection
2. The Ascension
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4. The Assumption
5. The Coronation