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Showing Up is Enough

February 2, 2021   Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Lectionary: 524)

Reading I   Mal 3:1-4
Thus says the Lord God:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Responsorial Psalm   24:7, 8, 9, 10
R. (8) Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD of hosts; he is the king of glory.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!

Reading II   Heb 2:14-18
Since the children share in blood and flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters
in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

Alleluia   Lk 2:32
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A light of revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   Lk 2:22-40 or 2:22-32
When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
-and you yourself a sword will pierce-
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

OR:

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

By Mary Susan Delagrange

Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Also known as Candlemas, it’s the official end of the Christmas season. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been over it for a while. The tree is long gone and the only straggling remains of Christmas are the little shriveled bits of tinsel whirling around in my vacuum.

To be honest, my Christmas spirit is so long gone by now, that I rarely give a second thought to today’s feast. Jesus is presented in the temple by Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna make their prophecies, and I just carry on with my liturgical year.

In my defense, the Presentation doesn’t have the same spectacle as Christmas. It doesn’t have that sparkly, celebratory vibe at all. The readings are peppered with promises of suffering, swords piercing hearts, the refiner coming to purify through fire.

It doesn’t necessarily elicit the same warm fuzzy feelings evoked in the Nativity story.

As a birth doula I spend much of my time supporting clients through birth and postpartum. When I recently stopped to ponder these scriptures through the lens of birth work, I finally got it.

Through my doula eyes, I see that Jesus’ presentation in the temple is where it gets real. This family is 40 days into their postpartum journey. The anticipation of pregnancy is over. The long awaited son has been delivered. They’ve made it through the climax of birth and they’re on the other side now.

But there’s no happily ever after,

just disturbed sleep, the learning curve of breastfeeding, and new parent anxiety. In the midst of these postpartum growing pains, Mary and Joseph make their way to the temple to present their son to the Lord. While not ceremonially unclean herself, Mary obediently follows the law of her faith. She comes to the temple to be purified, they make an offering to the Lord, and are taken aback by the words spoken over them.



Joseph and Mary observed the ceremony, bringing the Light of the World into the Temple, shining that light into the hearts of Simeon and Anna, and allowing them to see their prayers come to fruition in person. When Mary and Joseph present their child, what they’re really doing is showing up in quiet faithfulness, continuing to partner obediently with God and thereby changing the world.

When I see the Holy Family living out their fiat in Ordinary Time, I realize that this is precisely where holiness is worked out with fear and trembling. Holy isn’t only found in the tinsel and garland, but in every mundane moment, every draining second, every unexpected or jarring word spoken to me and in the ways I offer all of it up to the Lord. It’s in all of this that we meet Jesus and are given the chance to carry Him into the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Susan Delagrange is a professional juggler. She juggles four kids, a butcher husband, a highly excitable labradoodle, her birth doula business, and blogs about it all at. A native Texan living in Ohio, she spends her days dreaming of real Mexican food, journaling, drinking too much coffee, and escaping to run in the woods whenever she gets the chance. You can find out more about her here

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